There’s no obvious way to recover after a madman throws your infant son on the subway tracks and your wife perishes as well in her attempt to save him. Novelist Terry Orr finds the talking cure less effective than writing letters to his late wife, famous painter Marina Fiorentino, and taking on some pro bono work as a private eye. And there’s no shortage of work to be done. While he’s out jogging on Little West 12th Street, Terry finds the body of cabdriver Aubrey Brown, beaten to death with his own steering-wheel lock. As one of the few mourners at Brown’s Harlem funeral, he spooks a scarred school kid lurking around into taking off and promptly becomes convinced he’s the key to a case the cops have filed under “Forget.” Meantime, another case has struck closer to home: The gallery of Judith Henley Harper, Marina’s former agent, has been bombed during painter Sol Beck’s opening, sending Judy to the hospital and Terry back to work to find out who planted the bomb in a way designed to cause minimal damage and then phoned Judy to warn her. Lin-Lin Chin, Beck’s wife, insists the perp must be Beck’s hostile father, but Terry, who idolizes his precocious daughter Bella, can’t believe anybody could treat his own child that way. Or could he?
Music critic Fusilli’s debut is high-minded and drenched in atmosphere, with long, looping descriptions of night, the city, and the power of love that readers will find either darkly exalting (think Seven with family values) or intolerably literary.