Underground ’60s radicals resurface to exonerate themselves in Gordon’s compelling and intricately plotted third outing (The Gun Runner’s Daughter, 1998, etc.).
It’s 2006 when James Grant (a.k.a. Jason Sinai), ex-hippie turned lawyer, begins the collaborative effort, in a series of e-mails written by co-conspirators old and new, of explaining to his daughter Isabel the ethical and familial sacrifices he made for the greater good—by way of pleading for her testimony at the parole hearing of his ex-lover Mimi. Isabel lives in England with her party-girl mother and surly grandfather, Senator Montgomery, whose political career once hinged on the cover-up of his daughter’s marriage to Sinai, a famed member of the Weather Underground. After a botched Bank of Michigan holdup where a cop was killed, Sinai and friends went into hiding. The sleeping past comes to a boil in the summer of ’96 when a “deep-throat” tip from an FBI agent informs Benjamin Schulberg, a beat reporter for the Albany Times and destined Pulitzer-winning journalist, of the reemergence of fugitive Sharon Solarz, one of Weather’s core members, at an illegally wiretapped pot-growing ranch run by Billy Cusimano, client of James Grant. With investigative rigor, Benjamin mines the connections, soon learning Grant’s true identity and involvement, along with Solarz and now-drug-runner Mimi Lurie, in the robbery homicide. After taking a new alias and initiating red herrings for the pursuing FBI, Sinai returns to Michigan to find Mimi, the only person who can prove his innocence. Friends and relatives confabulate on how it all went down, often concerning themselves with the failures of democracy and the criminally conducted Vietnam War. They’re emotionally charged yet at times feel like padding to provide obligatory background. Isabel is asked to understand a lot, including why her father abandoned her in a hotel room and kept secrets about a half-sister. The final e-mail, written by Isabel in 2010, ties up loose ends.
Well-rendered and engaging political drama, in spite of falling prey to certain limitations of the e-epistolary form.