HOUSE OF LORDS by Philip Rosenberg


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A questionable and overlong thriller about a successful investor who makes a pact with a Mafia-devil and pays him no due.

Through yet another Wall St.–Little Italy imbroglio, Rosenberg (Tygers of Wrath, 1990) threads a compelling question: What happens when a squeaky-clean investment executive unleashes his potential for evil? For his daughter Jessica’s 18th birthday, banker Jeffrey Blaine and his wife Phyllis throw a party at a Manhattan restaurant so exclusive that even the Mayor has trouble getting a table. Onto the scene come some randy boys “who couldn’t have looked more Italian if they had been selling cannoli from pushcarts.” The studs lure Blaine’s daughter and girlfriends into private rooms, and when the sex gets too rough, one girl screams. Out of the crowd that gathers slides handsome Mafia lord Chet Fiore, who deftly keeps the police and tabloid reporters at bay. Now owing him a favor, Blaine concocts a laundering scheme that enriches Fiore. Emboldened by the “money of the hidden self” that’s gushing forth, Blaine emerges as a slick, sharp player who gradually edges Fiore aside. He also carries on with Elaine Lester, who, unbeknownst to Blaine, is a US attorney stalking Fiore. The costs to Blaine? Not much. Daughter Jessica battles drugs and physical abuse from one of the boys from the party, but she heads for recovery. Wife Phyllis meets Fiore for sex, giving Blaine a reason to divorce her. Lester leaves Blaine while one of her minions stays on his tail. Still, nothing prevents Blaine and his daughter from enjoying the farmhouse he buys in Normandy.

Overcooked prose (“ . . . like a sunrise, she rolled off of him”), crudely described sex (“He grabbed her ass”), offensive stereotypes (“His eyes were filled with the chronic sadness of an aging queen”), and an unsettling denouement (crime sometimes pays).

Pub Date: June 4th, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-019415-4
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002