An overkill of heavy-breathing prose only adds to the ineptness of this revenge thriller. First-novelist Klemer's strength is in his technical knowledge of the New York City waterfront, which he shows to advantage in a cross-Hudson chase that follows the big heist from a wedding party on a boat. The target of the heist is a power-mad bank president, Jonathan Collingsford, whose villainy caused the death of Robert Russo's father and indirectly the death of the father of Robert's cousin, Salvatore Barone. Many years after these tragedies, Robert, now an ace lawyer and former D.A., and Salvatore, a dock worker who has done time in prison, set up the robbery to implicate Collingsford in a crime, of which he, for once, will not be guilty. A subplot concerns Robert's involvement with Collingsford's illegitimate daughter Danielle, a relationship seasoned with a whiff of sadism. The women in the book tend to be either sexual doormats, nervous Nellies, or nags, and the men all talk the same tough, street-smart language, whatever their class or education. Collingsford, in particular, is portrayed in unbelievable, comic-book fashion, the WASP banker you love to hate. In a stab at cinematic pace, Klemer changes scenes and protagonists frequently, but it's hard to care about characters who are yanked on and off stage at the drop of a hat and remain largely undifferentiated. For those who find it reassuring to watch stick figures go through familiar twists and turns of plot.
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