After almost 20 years in prison, an innocent man escapes to hunt down the cabal that framed him.
Quotes from The Count of Monte Cristo appropriately introduce the multiple sections of the story, which begins with the revelation that hero and narrator Raymond White is struggling to survive in upstate New York’s Auburn Prison. It then flashes back more than a decade, when the half–Native-American Raymond is a rising star in both his Syracuse law firm and the local Republican Party. His reclusive blue-collar dad doesn’t even have a phone and disdains Raymond’s affluent lifestyle but is grudgingly proud of his son’s achievements. Supported by a handful of youngish political power brokers—Bob Rangle, Paul Russo and Frank Steffano—Raymond preps to succeed ailing Syracuse Congressman Roger Williamson, a fellow Princeton alumnus. When Raymond visits Williamson, who’s linked to an IV, he reluctantly agrees to carry an envelope full of cash to Williamson’s mistress, Celeste Oliver. When he delivers it, Celeste offers herself to him, as Williamson’s successor. The moralistic Raymond, thinking also of beautiful, devoted fiancée Lexis, deflects the pass. Next day, Celeste is found murdered, and forensic evidence points to Raymond as the killer. In short order, he’s off the fast track to fame and on to prison. While there, Lexis marries Frank, who, Raymond learns, has strong links to organized crime. Frank and Lexis establish a glamorous life in Manhattan. Raymond, meanwhile, gets an education in survival and also in the deeper meaning of life from wise old inmate Lester. Much prison time is also given to plotting retribution. After 18 years, Raymond escapes, and radical plastic surgery allows him to get close to his quarry, while a compassionate new love named Helena smooths the transition into society and he implements his methodical revenge.
Green (The First 48, 2004, etc.) craftily attenuates the suspense and works some nice wrinkles into a familiar formula.