Following two Nick Heller novels (Vanished, 2009; Buried Secrets, 2011), Finder gives us a stand-alone in which Boston writer Danny Goodman gets in treacherously over his head after borrowing a large sum of money from a fabulously rich man who isn't what he seems.
Since his wife died from cancer two years ago, Danny has been struggling—emotionally, because his teenage daughter, Abby, still blames him for not telling her that her mother was dying; and financially, because he had Abby transferred to the city's most exclusive private school, where her best friend, Jenna, goes. When the school threatens to kick her out for lack of tuition payments, Jenna's father, Tom Galvin, loans Danny $50,000, saying his formerly troubled daughter's current happiness depends on her continuing to have Abby as a classmate. Tom, who is married to the daughter of a prominent Mexican businessman, also values his burgeoning friendship with Danny, a fellow Bostonian with working-class roots like his. But no sooner has Danny deposited the money than DEA agents are all over him, informing him that Galvin works for a top Mexican drug cartel and unless Danny spies on him for them, he will go to prison as an accessory—or even worse, be targeted by the murderous cartel. Danny's nail-biting exploits include breaking into Galvin's locker during a game of racquetball to drain data from his cellphone. Is Tom onto him? Is he being so warm and generous to Danny only to set him up? The characters don't break any molds; we've seen even the likes of the cartel's sadistic "angel of death," Dr. Mendoza, before. But the plot is so smartly put together, expertly paced and unpredictable that neither Danny's shallowness nor Finder's limitations as a prose stylist keep this from being an irresistible page-turner.
This is another winner from Finder, who, as ever, builds suspense without a shred of overstatement.