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By N.L. Carroll

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2012
Publisher: Self

Carroll’s New York–based mystery novel tells a complex tale of murder, deceit and money trouble during the recent financial crisis.

Carroll introduces some intriguing characters, including financial-industry types Megan McClure, Cindy Hanson and Joe Delmonico, with compelling psychological motivations: affairs, the death of a parent, the institutionalization of Cindy’s sister, Julie, and the terror of a post-9/11 world. In the city, McClure’s narrative moves back and forth between the office and her boyfriend—perhaps someday her spouse—detective Michael Giordano, a man’s man who’s concerned about the recent deaths of Wall Street males, all of whom look curiously alike. Carroll is on target when situating the characters and describing their jaunts around Manhattan: the Lower East Side for drinks; uptown for tony homes. But the text can also be clunky when asserting locales: “Looking out the window, I saw plenty of New Yorkers scurrying about.” Elsewhere, Carroll relishes describing the town of Poughkeepsie—“a small metropolis in its own right”—including descriptions of Cindy’s house on the Hudson, where the boxes in her basement remind her of distressing deaths in her family, giving the novel a decidedly macabre tone. A reference to the Son of Sam killings seems slightly off when, in the book, only two male murders have occurred, and even though the cast of characters doesn’t quite come together to fill out the puzzle, they provide a glimpse into the real reasons murders occur and the tension that holds sway over the city after 9/11. With an excellent twist, this book stands out among the slew of recent financial-crisis thrillers, even as Megan becomes less of a key player and Carroll focuses on Mike’s interviews and detective work to find out who’s killing the Wall Street men. Mike also heads up to Poughkeepsie on his own to better understand the Hanson family’s story and their mysterious benefactor, while Cindy starts dating a fireman and works to get her life back together now that her sister is gone. Ultimately, Mike’s pursuit of hunches and leads from his girlfriend, Megan, allows him to bring in the killer—or does it?

A sharp depiction of modern fear in the big city.