An average Joe who thinks he deserves much more turns to crime to get it.
In Moore’s debut novel, quick-tempered Ike Caudine smokes too much, swears too much, and thinks far too highly of himself to be the lowly billboard salesman that he is. Two years later, in 1997, he and longtime friend Fitzgerald “Fritz” Moeller start a real estate magazine in moneyed Connecticut. The magazine quickly and wildly succeeds, allowing Ike to wear Gucci, drive a Mercedes, and flaunt a Rolex. But the publication and the big paycheck it provides are short-lived, killed by the internet and Ike and Fritz’s lack of business acumen. Eight years later, Ike’s toiling as a receptionist at a management firm and living with Mary. Raised poor, she now regularly wears pearls and wants a home in which “to entertain.” Realizing being with Ike isn’t going to get her a house with a porte-cochere, she packs up and leaves. Ike reunites with Fritz, who has turned to drugs and crime. Fritz baits Ike, whom he calls “monkey man,” into joining him in a money-laundering scheme. Fritz suggests the plan will bring Ike enough cash to lure back Mary. In the meantime, Ike encounters other willing women. Some unsavory male cohorts, one of whom is known as Fishguts, populate what the one-time publisher euphemistically refers to as the “finance” business, a line of work that transforms Ike into a killer. The novel’s arc takes Ike from being a rookie salesman who only imagines maiming a disagreeable prospective client to being a thug who feels “alive” after killing. Ike is nasty, surrounded by characters of a similar nature and in whom readers may well not have a rooting interest. There’s also the gratuitous use of “fuck,” with the word appearing on 79 of the book’s 259 pages, often more than once on a page. There’s also a palpable, un-PC attitude revealed by the overuse of another F word—“fat”—to describe people; there’s the “fat man whose suit pants bulged,” the “fat woman with a gold tooth,” etc. A banker and Connecticut native, the author writes authoritatively about money laundering and the Greenwich locale. In addition, dialogue, though often disturbing and repetitive, can be strong.
This novel, like its brutal characters, remains rough around the edges.