The author of the Lydia Chin-Bill Smith mysteries follows up her ambitious 9/11 novel (Absent Friends, 2004) with an equally wide-ranging anatomy of construction skullduggery.
Nurse’s aide Harriet Winston, killed by falling bricks as she’s walking past the Mott Haven construction site in the Bronx, is the third victim of an accident at the blighted project. Are the accidents compelling evidence of Mott Haven contractor Walter Glybenhall’s unfitness to take on the gigantic Harlem project he’s angling for, or are they really sabotage planned by his enemies, as Glybenhall insists? As Mayor Charlie Barr tussles with Manhattan Borough President Edgar Westermann and Harlem community leader Ford Corrington, Glybenhall’s principal rival for the new project, the casualties begin to mount. A gangbanger is tossed off a roof at Mott Haven. The guy who tossed him is gunned down. And death waits for a young woman who overhears the wrong phone call. It sounds like a job for the Buildings Department’s internal inspectors, who investigate charges of corruption involving Buildings Department personnel. But star inspector Joe Cole has only recently finished serving three years in prison after perjured testimony implicated him in an earlier death he’d been probing. Now Joe’s old girlfriend, wealthy inspector Ann Montgomery, is so intent on nailing Glybenhall, who years ago seduced her mother and menaced her, that she fails to read the same signs. Soon after she’s enticed into throwing all her weight into accusations against Glybenhall, she realizes she’s been set up too—just in time to get frozen out of the case and the department. The story is familiar, but Rozan embeds it in social fabric so dense and so convincing that everyone in the Big Apple, from power-hungry politicos to money-hungry developers to survival-hungry street kids, comes alive.
An exuberant celebration of the rainbow city in all its crime-drenched glory.