John Shannon is a petty crook on the run from a possible death sentence. Then he's rescued by an anonymous benefactor and transported to a new life in a nameless city, one coping with the Katrina-like aftereffects of flood and fire, lawlessness and corruption.
Shannon assumes the agent-of-change has offered no-strings help because Shannon stopped his own partner-in-crime from raping an innocent person during a high-profile burglary. Arrested, the partner revenged himself by accusing Shannon of a multiple murder. Thus, when Shannon receives a text message—"You've made a friend. I can help you."—while eluding capture, he doesn't hesitate. Drugged and confused, Shannon undergoes plastic surgery and is given a new identity. He finds work as a carpenter in the ravaged city, and even finds an opportunity to employ his artistic talent for wood carving. Too late he discovers that he is an unwitting tool in a shadowy attempt to dismantle a criminal enterprise under the control of the city's popular mayor and overseen by a corrupt police lieutenant. As the sting collapses, Shannon finds himself too involved in the life of a young war widow and her family to simply run. He resolves to save them, but Shannon still must cope with the machinations of the Feds’ attempt to undermine the corrupt administration. Shannon becomes a likable hero as the story unfolds, and the villains are nicely drawn, particularly Lt. Brick Ramsey. The author also handles the difficult subject of racial tension deftly.
Twice winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, Klavan hits his target once again with this crime caper.