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Accused of killing his wife, a Wall Street barracuda plunges from the cesspools of financial chicanery into underworld waters yet more murky, teeming with pursuing cops and Russian mobsters.

You don’t much like Peter Tyler. Whether he’s bantam-strutting at Klein and Klein, plotting deals and besting colleagues at Nerf ball or cheating on Jenna, a lawyer working pro bono for under-funded urban schools, he’s Testosterone Walking. Former general partner at Goldman Sachs, debut novelist Vance gets the type down cold—the $110 neckties, the wandering eye for the tight-skirted receptionist. You mourn, then, for Jenna when she’s clubbed to death, but hardly bleed for Peter. Crusty Rommy, homicide dick, instantly suspects him and, tipping off Jenna’s parents, gets them to bar Peter from her funeral. After nixing a suicide bid, Peter transforms into sleuth-vigilante. First clue to her killing? A mysterious FedEx package delivered to Jenna the day she died. The sender’s the cryptic Andrei Zhilina, Peter’s business-school roommate, now Moscow rep for big-time brokerage firm Turndale and Co. He’s also the brother of Katya, with whom Peter shared a one-night stand. And he’s disappeared. For Peter, hunting Andrei intersects with hunting Jenna’s killer—and he begins wondering if they’re one and the same. This, despite his great friendship with Zhilina. As his quest accelerates, Peter rubs up against the wrong side of a Swiss drug company experimenting with a superstrain of tuberculosis that may just become a WMD; haunts an AIDS clinic that’s a front for something nefarious; and finds out that, somehow, Tolstoy’s A Confession will provide him tools to un-kink the extraordinarily clotted mystery that’s ensnared him. Vance parlays plot like a puzzle-master; just as effective is his character study of his protagonist, who evolves, though suffering, from an opportunistic narcissist into something resembling a human.

A fast, complex thriller.

Pub Date: July 17th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-307-26632-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2007