Bodies pile up as corrupt politicians try to protect a money laundering operation in Kenny’s (The Docent, 2016) political thriller.
Waldo LaGrande is the first African-American ever elected to the House of Representatives from the state of Massachusetts. As he starts to find his way around Washington, D.C., in the mid-1990s, he runs into a wide-ranging international financial conspiracy linked to several of his colleagues. Soon the novel’s omniscient third-person narration brings readers into every aspect of the money laundering business, including the couriers carting stacks of bills in New York City and Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda; the elites benefiting from the arrangement; and the disgruntled financial clerk who becomes a whistleblower in a fit of pique. Waldo, a decorated U.S. Marine who relocated from the Jim Crow South to Massachusetts at the end of his service, serves as the book’s moral core, but he has flaws, as well, never coming off as unbelievably noble. As he begins to untangle the corruption among his colleagues, federal investigators uncover the misconduct from other angles, setting in motion a plot that eventually brings all the major characters together on Bermuda during a hurricane—but not before more than a few participants are tortured and killed. Kenny has a strong sense of plot and keeps the complex threads of the novel moving toward a reasonable conclusion. The sprawling cast of characters is full of well-defined personalities, and the author gives readers detailed portraits of even minor figures. The book’s prose, however, is less successful due to awkward metaphors (“Like a gazelle shocked by the appearance of a cheetah, Waldo cut to his left, onto Main Street, and sprinted down the edge of the pavement”) and a Dan Brown–like tendency to replace pronouns with excessive character descriptions (“Good Lord in heaven above, the untidy fat man in the soiled white suit and Giants baseball cap complained to his personal deity”).
An often engaging, if flawed, novel about a man of integrity exposing personal and political corruption.