A New York–based thriller that connects the worlds of counterterrorism and high finance.
The ambient mood Nuckel (Grit, 2013, etc.) creates in his novel is dark, even grim: a world of elite treachery, lies and organized violence. The narrative begins in the early 1970s with William Brogan, once a top official with the Justice Department, who now owns a major security firm. He’s also an assassin who targets terrorists, although it’s never quite clear whom he works for or how he came upon that role. After he successfully completes his latest assignment, he’s approached by the informant he worked with on his last three assassinations: Carter Handley, a wealthy businessman with deep ties to the Middle East. It turns out that Handley tricked Brogan into killing the CFO of a well-known financial services firm in order to further his own self-interest. As a way to secure Brogan’s silence, Handley established a blind trust that made it appear that Brogan had been buying up stock in the firm for months, giving him an apparent motive for the murder. The remainder of the novel takes place more than 40 years later, after Brogan has died, and the executor of his estate, Sol Landsman, stumbles upon the mysterious blind trust, which perplexes and concerns him. He then hires Ben Hirsch, a former investigator for the Securities and Exchange Commission, to trace the trust back to its origins. This briskly paced story has no shortage of action or intrigue, and the suspense simmers slowly and steadily to a final boil. Its third-person narration can be coarse and unsubtle at times: “Ben stood stunned. Jesus Christ, he thought, Kat Wells had him pissing in his pants. The police commissioner of New York City was apologizing to him. Un-fucking-believable.” However, the author does show real skill in describing a world that’s equally corrupt and plausible.
A good choice for readers interested in an action-packed plot without literary pretensions.