Carnoy (Knife Music, 2008) heads to high-tech Silicon Valley for his sophomore thriller, but the story is as old-fashioned as betrayal, greed and murder.
Colorful characters abound in Carnoy’s legal caper. Richie Forman was big in dot-com marketing before ending up in prison. There was a bachelor party for Richie, after which he and his best friend, Mark McGregor, headed out in Richie’s classic Cadillac. What followed was a missed red light and a young woman dead. Richie’s blood alcohol was .12, but he was certain he wasn’t driving. Convicted anyway, he spent years in the pen. While Richie was doing hard time, his financee, Beth Hill, gave in to the wiles of the best friend, Mark, and married him. Now Richie’s out, making a living as a Sinatra impersonator and volunteering at the Exoneration Foundation run by the DNA Dude, attorney Marty Lowenstein. Mark, still in the dot-com business but on apparent shaky financial ground, has been murdered. The police have suspects, including Beth, but the police like Richie the most. Enter Hank Madden, a detective involved in the accident investigation, and Beth’s attorney, Carolyn Dupuy, the prosecutor who put Richie in the clink and who is now coping with an off-and-on doctor boyfriend and a ticking biological clock. Then there’s the muckraker guy, Tom Bender, a Drudge-digital-clone with a must-read website covering the dot-com business world. Carnoy knows the territory perfectly, and with judicious use of clever phrases that never distract from the crime caper, he’s spot on with his characterizations, all of which seem both archetypal and yet sparkling with individual personalities and interesting back stories. Add an intriguing semi-red herring or two, and the climax comes with a satisfying twist.
A first-rate crime caper.