A deranged killer comes to New York seeking vengeance in Nuckel’s (The Vig, 2011, etc.) latest thriller.
After mob assassin Carla Pugliese easily dispatches men hired to kill her, she decides to target her mobster uncle, who manipulated her into becoming an assassin by exploiting her father’s sexual abuse, and Frank McGinley, a former target whom she believes tried to have her killed. Meanwhile, Frank, a recovering alcoholic, starts a job helping to stop Wall Street crime, unaware of the crazed woman meticulously planning his demise. The author’s taut novel toys with readers’ expectations almost immediately; it opens with Carla as the victim, but as Frank struggles to stay sober and rekindles an old romance, he gradually becomes the story’s protagonist. Carla, however, evolves into a chilling figure as her motivations change from retribution to self-preservation and, ultimately, to pure savagery. In the deftly handled narrative, Carla and Frank are separated for months before finally catching up with each other. Nuckel also discerningly uses the narrative’s 2002 setting, depicting characters who have feelings of guilt about the then-recent 9/11 tragedy. Frank’s first assignment at his new job is to retrieve funds from a man who refuses to pay, and the resulting frank talk about Wall Street trading is neither rife with jargon nor excessively dumbed down; instead, it’s expressed in layman’s terms for intelligent readers. Although not every minor character makes it to the end, any one of them, including Kat, a Colorado cop who tracks Carla to New York, or Brogan, Frank’s sometimes-scary boss, would be welcomed in a sequel.
A slow-burning story with a fiery climax that more than lives up to expectations.