When a childhood game takes on grown-up dimensions, you just know that things aren’t going to go well. So it is in this latest thriller of the 1 percent by Interview editor Bollen (Orient, 2015, etc.).
Ian Bledsoe once had aspirations to be Richie Rich, but when a seethingly hateful dad failed to deliver on his deathbed, he’s wound up without drachmas or pesos to rub together. It’s a good thing, then, that he’s found a niche in the world doing humanitarian work in the rubble left by the class war, the war on drugs, the war on terror, and every other struggle imaginable. Longtime friend Charalambos Konstantinou—“Charlie” to his non-Greek friends—has different troubles: someone may be gunning for him, given that a bomb has gone off near his yacht and given that his various enterprises seem to involve some of the rubble-making mayhem that Ian has seen up close. So it is that just before the two get together for the first time in five years, Ian finds himself thinking of something Charlie once said: “The only redeeming quality left in a New Yorker is their ability not to take up space.” The erstwhile New Yorker proves adept in not taking up space indeed: he disappears, and Ian follows clues through swaths of Greeks, Turks, Cypriots, Arabs, and Eurotrash, encountering testy Orthodox monks, grim Interpol suspects, and a heaving-breasted former schoolmate (“her palm prints are etched on my rib cage as if I were a window she was frantically trying to open”). Nobody depicts disaffected rich people quite as well as Bollen (“It’s still too hot for Kraków and there’s so much August left. I was thinking Stromboli, or Biarritz, or maybe Sharm el-Sheikh. A friend has a house in Tenerife”), an eminently worthy heir to Patricia Highsmith. If the story goes on a touch too long and has perhaps one too many supporting characters to follow, it makes for a satisfying, literate thriller.
At once gritty, sandy, and silky—good reading for the beach or a yacht, too.