Not so much a who-dun-it as a who-didn’t, Spiegelman’s first sets its hard-boiled sights on high-finance, money laundering, and extortion.
John March is a country cop turned big-city private dick with a checkered past. After foregoing a lucrative position at the helm of his family’s bank to become a sheriff’s investigator, only to lose everything after shooting the serial killer who murdered his wife, John escapes to Manhattan to do private work for friend and lawyer, Michael Metz. Mike introduces him to Rick Pierro, a big-time Wall Street player with ties to Merchant’s Worldwide Bank, whose roof collapsed after a federal investigation and the disappearances and deaths of key management. Pierro has received a curious fax from an anonymous blackmailer, and though he’s claimed innocence, wishes to comply in a strategic move to salvage his reputation as an honest businessman. Pierro’s wife, Helene, plays aloof, but John keeps returning to question her. Picking up clues, he learns of Gerard Nassouli, the shrewd, lecherous mastermind behind MWB’s illegal practices. Focusing on the weak and elderly, Nassouli mined the corporate world for “pet traders” and cynical vice-presidents, taking them under his wing by introducing them to crooks and drug-cartels working under the auspices of major companies, and, once a deal was struck, cuckolding said pets into money laundering with threats of bodily harm and career-ending videotapes. With his own background in finance and software, Spiegelman makes up an intensely complicated and intriguing plot, at its best precise and suspenseful, at its worst a superfluous muddle. But March is a strong and fatalistic character with a flawless nose for bull. His has run-ins, often violent, with a psychotic G-man; a strong-arm named Trautmann; and various underworld parasites and has-beens. After an underdeveloped love interest, there’s a bloody tying up of loose threads.
A provocative debut, likely to exercise its film rights.