The ninth time around the block for Brooklyn private eye Moe Prager (Hurt Machine, 2011, etc.) is a blast from the past in more ways than one.
Sloane Cantor isn’t really hollow. She just said she felt that way when she posted her tale of a traumatic jilting online back in 1999, when she was still in high school, and 911 phone banks lit up all over the city. It was all a lie—there was no Lionel who’d dumped her, no Victoria he had sex with in front of her—or, as Sloane would call it, an example of performance art. The furor at these revelations was so intense that Sloane changed her name to Siobhan Bracken when she moved to Manhattan. Now, she’s been missing from the East Village for a month, and her mother, Nancy Lustig, is worried. Since Nancy’s known Moe since his very first case, it makes sense for her to rope him into her search, especially since Moe, who’s hit bottom with the death of his fiancee, can use some distraction. What doesn’t make sense is Sloane’s, or Siobhan’s, behavior. She’s not dead; the woman whose corpse was found in her Houston Street apartment is that of her ex-lover, washed-up actress Millicent McCumber. And she’s once again headed for Web celebrity via a series of videos that show her bound and gagged, a photograph of an unidentifiable woman at her feet. Is she really in danger, or is this just another piece of performance art? And either way, what’s the point?
It’s nice to report that Moe, who seems to live more deeply in his memories in every installment of his adventures, is poised to escape his past at the end of this one. The out-of-the-blue revelations that wind up this atmospheric, bluesy case may leave readers less satisfied than he is.