In Hill’s debut thriller, a criminal seeks vengeance on a Manhattan investment banker and his lawyer wife.
Ellis Hord has made a name for himself at the New York City–based bank Mercantile Merchant, but it’s his past career, as a Pennsylvania cop two decades ago, that’s made him a target of Russian drug lord Nicholai Sidorov. During an undercover operation, Ellis had been involved in a gunfight in which several of Sidorov’s men were killed; the drug lord’s son, Peatra, was injured and subsequently imprisoned. Now Peatra, who endured abuse from other inmates and failed to receive proper medical care, is slowly dying. In an act of revenge, Sidorov sics his assassin, Konstantin, on Ellis and his former police partner, Michael Jackson; he also targets Ellis’ wife, Maggie, and even the couple’s dog. Around the same time, convicted serial rapist Justin Brookings escapes Rikers Island. He plots his own retribution against Maggie, the assistant district attorney who helped to convict him. Meanwhile, Ellis gets caught up in a merger between two firms, as one of them, Affordable Long Distance, is Mercantile Merchant’s client. At the same time, ALD’s CEO is suspected of shady deeds, which could end up tarnishing the bank’s reputation. However, Ellis and his loved ones aren’t the only ones in mortal danger. To further complicate matters, an unknown person has been brutally raping and murdering women, all of whom have connections to Ellis’ place of employment.
As this summary makes clear, Hill’s novel is complex, but the narrative is never difficult to follow. The author skillfully manages a multitude of characters, providing succinct but pertinent details that clarify their roles in the plot. The many players include Jacques Torzinger, Jackson’s old friend who once worked as a Mossad analyst; and Carol, the Hords’ dogwalker, who may be in peril just because of her association with the couple. One drawback, however, to such a large cast is that several exceptional characters have disappointingly few or brief appearances. Jacques, for one, could carry his own novel or series all by himself, and Chet Bradford, a smart and capable police officer who works with Maggie, is also prime protagonist material. The pace is consistently brisk even during the many discussions about investments or financial decision-making; the author clarifies financial terminology, such as “initial public offerings” or “special purposes entities,” in footnotes without cluttering the narrative. But Hill also makes his characters’ environments memorable; in one scene, for instance, Chet and others walk into an autopsy room, which is described as having “a cold feel from more than just the ambient temperature” and “a strange smell—medicinal mixed with Lysol and formaldehyde.” The book’s lengthy final act offers a hodgepodge of significant deaths and shocking revelations. Although a few characters’ fates are left open and some other matters remain unresolved, it’s evident by the end that Hill is setting the stage for a sequel—one that readers will surely welcome.
A gleefully intricate tale of criminals, Wall Streeters, and various combinations thereof.