Lehman’s debut novel introduces the Grants, a powerful Florida family whose superwealthy members are out for one another’s blood and money.
Stuart Grant, an office supply magnate, has a new trophy wife and is nefariously attempting to wrest total control of the family’s millions from his late brother’s family. So what if it violates the oath he and his brother swore in front of their mother years ago. Although his mother is still alive, and there is plenty of paperwork to back up the claim that the assets must be shared, Stuart will stop at nothing to steal from his brother’s widow and her children. Stuart has no positive qualities and extremely poor judgment. He recently married Eva, a master of artifice who, while lusting after other men, wants him only for his money. She becomes obsessed with Stuart’s handsome nephew, Michael, who is inconveniently smitten with Eva’s daughter, an intelligent, sincere woman completely unlike her mother. Stuart has also disowned his own son, William, because of William’s choice of life partner. Stuart’s secret plan is to expeditiously sell his company to a giant global office supply concern for nearly $2 billion, a deal necessitating both the destruction of all documents attesting to the ownership of stock by other family members and the falsifying of new documents naming him the sole owner. Increasingly desperate to stop his family from discovering his scheme, Stuart is forced to engage the services of hit men and women, leading to some very dire consequences. Most of the action takes place in the homes and grounds of the fabulously wealthy on their private island. This peek behind the curtains offers a look at how the .01 percent lives, providing the book’s most colorful, enjoyable renderings. The characters, however, are often caricatures—the gold digger, the murderous thug, the star-crossed lovers, etc.—while the language, particularly relating to love and sex, can be awkwardly florid. Take, for instance, a romantic moment under the stars: “A full moon led the heavens in a symphony of light.” The race to stop the big deal from coming to fruition turns into a screwball comedy of sorts; there’s even a hint of the film Some Like It Hot, which seems wildly out of place.
This sprawling family blood feud suffers from an abundance of improbable plot twists and contrivances.