Miller (Nectar of the Gods, 2015, etc.) returns with a novel about a builder who becomes embroiled in the dangerous, duplicitous world of organized crime.
Max Dietrich, the director of construction for a flailing building company in the Poconos, isn’t too surprised when a bullet sails through his office window and breaks his mug of tequila. His boss, Joe, is a greedy, inept businessman whose mismanagement of the company has left him unable to properly pay his workers. As Max explains to the police when they come to investigate the shooting, “This company owes money to every subcontractor we have in the entire county. Counties.” Max himself would have left months ago if it didn’t mean walking away from all the back pay he’s owed—as well as his co-worker Laurie, whose recent divorce has left her more receptive to Max’s advances. When they find out that Joe is planning to develop the previously off-limits Black Mountain—a last-ditch deal that could net the company millions—Max hopes that things might finally turn around. That is, until he discovers that Joe’s new business partners are connected to New York City’s most dangerous mob family. Max tries to be pragmatic about the situation; after all, there’s a lot of money to be made. But when mob business practices start to penetrate their Pocono town, he must decide where his loyalties lie. Miller is a capable writer; his prose has no frills (and a few typos, such as “then” for “than”), but he’s skilled at quick characterization and exposition. The dank, backwater setting in the not-so-nice Poconos adds a grittiness to the work that doesn’t feel manufactured. If the book falters, it’s because it’s a bit too concerned with the intricacies of the construction business; for example, it initially spends a lot of time on the flaws of Joe’s business model—a subject that may not interest many readers. Things pick up a bit, though, after unsavory types start to show up, and the novel works well enough to keep readers invested until the end.
A competent crime thriller.