Criminally Innocent

Four white-collar friends are caught up in an investigation when one of their own is accused of bribing government officials in Reman’s debut thriller.
Carl Messina is the only one of his friends still at the accounting firm where the four of them started more than 20 years ago. Marc is a lawyer, Ken heads a company’s tax department, and Kavi, Carl’s best friend, is CFO at American Dynamics Group. When ADG is accused of bribery, initially at a construction project in the Ukraine and later at plants in other countries, the Securities and Exchange Commission sends Gary Bevins. The SEC generally handles civil matters but is working with the Department of Justice to investigate the case as a criminal offense. And Gary, it seems, is gunning for Kavi, compiling all the evidence, including statements from ADG employees and officers, against him. Carl, Marc and Ken scramble to find a way to help their friend, but since the SEC’s case is so strong, they may have to resort to a solution that’s not exactly within the scope of the law. This is a staunch corporate thriller that forefronts white-collar crime. The novel ably deploys the traditional hero and villain roles. The physically capable Ken, with “muscles on his muscles,” does help devise “the Plan,” but he proves far less helpful than Marc or Carl. Gary is a formidable opponent, and his razor-sharp, mature intellect, especially when interrogating Kavi, belies his youthful appearance—Kavi’s first impression is that the bowtie-sporting Gary looks like a teenager. The relationships among the friends are strong; the book opens with the men at their annual get-together, commemorating their dinner as recruits at the firm, and occasionally flashes back to their meals and conversations throughout the years. In comparison, Carl’s romance with Vicki, an asset-protection attorney hired for Kavi, is feeble. The love he inevitably develops for her seems based solely on Vicki’s bodily attributes.

A crafty thriller in which characters’ wits are their weapons and crimes are often committed without anyone taking notice.

Pub Date: April 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491725061

Page Count: 320

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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