In this debut thriller, a trio of linked stories follows a bevy of characters driven by greed and vengeance, all sparked by the Irish mob’s heinous deeds.
In the first tale, “Rear View Mirror,” Francis Cranford, living a lowly life, tracks down his separated-at-birth twin, Kenneth Redman, a military man who has accumulated quite a fortune. But Irish mobster Hugo Henry has a plan: he offers Francis millions if he swaps identities with Kenneth and gets the mob access to his twin’s estate. Francis, however, has a scheme of his own, which entails keeping his brother’s riches all to himself. “Silk Road to Atlantis” picks up with Nikko Sporkas, who played a part in Francis’ swindle. Nikko seeks revenge in Ireland against the Irish mob, whom he blames for his father’s death. Hugo’s older brother Tyrone, meanwhile, arranges wife Cynthia’s abduction to demand ransom from her ambassador father and for another, far worse reason. Nikko ultimately teams up with Cynthia, as well as Kenneth’s niece and goddaughter, Jude and Kimmie, to face off against Tyrone. The final tale, “Subterfuge,” finds Nikko and Cynthia back in the U.S., where Nikko gets in the marijuana business with Berton James. Bert, however, is working for the Mafia, while Irish and Russian mobsters make matters worse, regardless of whether they’re aligned with the Italians. The three stories in this novel are distinctive but have a strong connection; protagonists vary, but the characters have clear associations and the Irish mob ties them together. Hoffman’s breakneck pace is commendable and often surprises with sudden deaths and shifting motives, like Nikko forgoing retribution for simple avarice. Breezing through the stories, however, favors the plot over characters. Camille Bisset’s first-person perspective, for example, introduces readers to Kenneth, but despite being his new girlfriend, Camille practically disappears from the story. Characters appear in the novel with Hoffman providing little development, and the author likewise doesn’t invest much in relationships, so a potentially interesting romance between Nikko and Cynthia is over before it has started. Still, the surfeit of characters is easy to follow, while the baddies— Irish, terrorists, etc.—are an unmistakable menace.
The action-laden plot leaves some characters in the dust but retains a high-speed tempo.