Gritty whodunit by thriller-meister Harrison (Risk, 2009, etc.), the bard of Gotham mayhem.
Map collectors are mild-mannered nerds, right? Maybe, unless, like the typophiles of William Hallahan’s long-out-of-print 1973 mystery, The Ross Forgery, they conceal a rough edge. So it is with Paul Reeves, an immigration attorney—“a mere immigration attorney,” one character ruefully thinks, late into the proceedings—who is not in the least bit shy of chucking aside professional ethics to get what he wants. One of the things he wants is a fabulously rare, fabulously expensive, utterly idiosyncratic map of 19th-century Manhattan. How does a mere immigration attorney secure the bread for such a goodie? Well, therein hangs Harrison’s tale, which involves an Iranian-American entrepreneur, his trailer-park-come-to-the-big-city wife (“The more beautiful the girls,” thinks Reeves, “the more volatile their destinies”), and a strapping soldier who, fatigue-clad, interrupts a well-heeled auction to whisk said young woman away. “I know I seem like some crazy motherfucker cowboy who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground,” says the perp to Paul, “but it’s a lot more complicated than that, mister.” So it is. The kidnapping, its victim not in the least unwilling, sets in motion an elaborate story with many moving parts, some of them involving large piles of money, hit men of a decidedly murderous bent, wealthy expats and players from shadowy sultanates, map thieves, drug dealers and crackheads, and an assortment of other people you probably wouldn’t want to know. When the body count starts to rise, it’s up to Paul to save his skin while trying to figure out how to grab the object of his dreams, to say nothing of luscious Jennifer Mehraz. Harrison’s story moves nimbly across a populous, MacGuffin-strewn landscape, and though it doesn’t paint a nice picture of rural America, it doesn’t spare the worst of New York, either.
For fans of the Larsson/Ludlum flavor of action-packed, cynical thriller, where no good deed goes unpunished.