A chance incident brings racial and marital tensions on Long Island to a head in this first installment of a debut series.
Former golf wunderkind Buddy Graves never planned to return to his old club as a caddy at age 32, but the recession had other ideas. Now he’s just trying to hold fast to his lovely nurse wife, Dana, while watching his neighborhood crumble in the housing bust. Then it happens: a 7-year-old girl who lives next door slips innocently into Buddy’s bathroom, he hustles her outside, a cell phone camera snaps and one Tyrell Walker embarks on a twisted crusade for “Webtribution” and racial justice. But that’s not Buddy’s only problem. Dominating the country club scene is Izzy Weinberg, nursing home baron, and his still-sexy wife, Elaine, with whom Buddy enjoyed a steamy flirtation on the links years ago. Izzy harbors Carnegie-style railroad dreams, boozes up Chinese business partners and keeps a smart young assistant working late under his covers. The web tightens when Dana joins a health task force investigating Izzy’s empire, and then her muckracking blogger gal pal posts a damning photo of a black activist professor—with connections to Tyrell—in company of the wrong color. So unfolds this smartly structured soap opera that adroitly lampoons our postmodern smugness. If we really want to explode stereotypes of rich Jews, femmes fatales, Asian power brokers, radicalized black brothers and white jocks whose lives crashed long ago, why not throw them together for high stakes and watch the sparks and clichés fly? Gritty vernacular rules the book, with heavy doses of ghetto talk and enough N-bombs and F-bombs to supply a platoon. The women seem a tad interchangeable, but they serve just fine as beautiful causes that launch men to insane states of desire. And sometimes, of course, ambition really is a bitch. At least one dream gets reborn at the novel’s end, with further complications and unsavory revelations promised in book two. Bring it on.
A cleverly threaded melodrama with a raunchy style and enough secrets, sex and culture clashes to keep the pages turning.