Miami p.r. executive gets in over his head, in a satisfying southern noir from the author of The Serpent Club (1999).
Garrett Doherty is a transplanted New Yorker working in the Miami branch of his Big Apple public-relations firm. Doherty, in flashbacks, assumes a smug, faux world-weary attitude—an attitude that would have been a lot more irritating had Coffey (a New York Times sports editor) not proceeded straight-away with a quick-paced plot. The source of Doherty’s doom is one Ernesto Rodriguez, a wealthy Cuban expatriate whom he becomes friendly with at a party one night. Soon, Rodriguez has Doherty handling the publicity for a massive real-estate deal he’s putting together. Meanwhile, the requisite femme fatale saunters into the office in the form of Magdalena, the lithe and sensuous wife of Frank Hedges, a boorish ex-partner of Rodriguez’s who arrives one day, hinting at a dark, shared past between himself, his wife, and Rodriguez. In trying to scare up press coverage for their business deal, Doherty discovers that his client is suspected by many of having drug connections, but his reputation is so nefarious that only the greenest of reporters would dare ask about the project’s funding. At about the same time that his client becomes suspiciously unavailable, the also-married Doherty strikes up a none-too-wise affair with Magdalena. Coffey spends a bit more time dealing with the burgeoning relationship between these two than he does with the mounting peculiarities of Doherty’s situation, in effect creating a couple of nicely credible characters. In true thriller fashion, Doherty doesn’t discover what’s going on until it’s too late, his almost drugged attraction to Magdalena making him stick around beyond the point when (one assumes) the average p.r. flack would have high-tailed it back to New York.
Fast-moving, solidly handled story—and a likely-to-be-popular late-summer read.