An ex-cop and ex-junkie tries to turn her life around and, in the process, stumbles into investigating a murder.
Maggie Terry has hit rock bottom. She’s just out of rehab; her ex-girlfriend and their daughter are long gone. She’s starting a new job in a law office after a beloved career with the NYPD went up in flames. And worst of all, Donald Trump’s been elected president. On the first day of Maggie’s new gig, famous actress Lucy Horne visits the attorney Maggie works for and asks his office to discreetly investigate the murder of a fellow thespian—she points them toward a potential suspect, Steven Brinkley, a famous novelist. But Maggie’s struggling to hold it together, bouncing from Narcotics Anonymous meetings to spying on her ex to roaming the city, struggling to understand what’s happened to it—and the country—in the years she’s been distracted by addiction. Will she be able to stay sober? Work successfully with her new professional partner? Win back her family? And, on top of it all, catch a killer? Schulman (The Cosmopolitans, 2016, etc.) has written a free-wheeling novel that must surely be one of the first to juxtapose Trump-era politics with whodunit, and Maggie’s political ramblings, about everything from Black Lives Matter to gentrification, are as central to the novel as the case at its heart. But even though most of Schulman's readers will likely agree with the politics here, Maggie still seems more a platform than a protagonist; her character never quite coheres. After all, how realistic is a 21st-century New Yorker who doesn’t own a cellphone or know how to use the internet?
Schulman offers, with mixed success, a sprawling exploration of New York nostalgia, police brutality, addiction memoir, and queer love, with a mystery as the cherry on top.