An entertaining, crisply written tale of a young man uncovering dangerous secrets takes place not on Los Angeles’ mean streets but among the luxurious estates of its old-money families.
The sixth novel by Revoyr (Lost Canyon, 2015, etc.) evokes echoes of Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, and a lot of Raymond Chandler, but with a thoroughly 21st-century setting. Rick Nagano is a graduate student in history at USC, broke and struggling with dissertation writer’s block, when he’s hired as a research assistant by a grand dame of local high society. Mrs. W—, as he calls her, is still a beauty in her 70s and, thanks to her legendary oilman grandfather, enormously rich. She’s also resolutely private; she hires him to transcribe her personal journals with the stipulation he not share what he learns from them. The job expands as he becomes her escort to social events, exposing him to a dizzying world of wealth and privilege his blue-collar background hasn’t prepared him for. Mrs. W—'s journals expose him to a history of the city he never knew existed, either, one filled with secrets that tempt his scholarly side. Even more tempting is Fiona Morgan, heir to another huge fortune, a beauty much younger than Mrs. W— who takes quite an interest in Rick. His sentimental education at the hands of Mrs. W— and Fiona turns into a detective story of sorts; its big revelation isn’t that hard to predict, but getting there is enjoyable.
Revoyr’s sleek prose and fast pacing move the reader through the sharply observed world of old money and the bad behavior it protects.