Defenestration is the buzzword in this thriller about a New York restaurateur who’s haunted by murder at various stages of his otherwise picture-perfect life.
The story opens with a burst of uncontrollable violence: young Jack Keller witnesses his mother being tossed out a 17th-floor window of an office building by a madman, and is himself nearly thrown out. Just before the incident he had been leaning flat against the window pretending he was flying—hence, Icarus. Andrews (Gideon, 1999) slows down the pace over the next 60 or so pages as we follow Jack’s life: Columbia University, marriage, and a string of extremely popular, but unpretentious restaurants called Jack’s. Then madness hits again: On opening night of a new Jack’s in Virginia, Jack’s wife is murdered by a thief—she’s shot and tossed out a window—and Jack is so badly wounded he hovers near death. His painful recovery is aided by a long-lost protégé with the pugilistic-sounding name of Kid Demeter. Like the Greek Goddess who’s his namesake, Kid has a few mysteries of his own; he’s actually a more interesting character than Jack, and his story nearly commandeers the narrative. But when Kid also turns up dead—off the roof this time, instead of out the window—Jack is determined to uncover the mysteries. Along the way he discovers the connection between Kid’s murder and his wife’s, but his investigation leads to more death. The build-up here is far more gripping, predictably, than the climax: in this instance, so many people are murdered there aren’t enough suspects left to stymie a successful guess.
A credible-enough page-turner with enough quirky New York types to drive the plot along, though you can’t help noticing that (with the exception of Kid and a couple peripheral gangsters in a flashback) all of the eventually dead characters are independent-minded women.