Friday, January 16, 2009

New York Thrills

I had seen author Colin Harrison described as an 'atmospheric' writer whose novels were dark thrillers full of violence and suspense, often set in New York. He sounded kind of like Richard Price, whose “Lush Life” I had liked so much (Neighborhood Crime), and a little like Raymond Chandler, so I decided to read his latest – The Finder. I didn't have to wait long for the violence. By page 4 you know that something bad is going to happen and by page 10 it has - a really gruesome murder of two innocent victims. Not everyone's cup of tea. But I like gritty crime stories; “The Wire” was one of my favorite TV shows. So I waded in.

Harrison hurls you into a series of New York worlds that have little in common. There's the 'rainmaking' corporate executive at a drug company wooing investors, an aging hedge fund billionaire with a trophy wife and a prostate problem, a young Chinese entrepreneur who manipulates the global markets using stolen information, a twisted Brooklyn 'waste management' thug who's right out of the Sopranos. Of course there's also a damsel in distress and a handsome young hero who is haunted by a mysterious past. Their paths all cross, and bad things happen.

If I'd had time to think about it, I'm sure I would have realized how implausible some of the plot twists were. But I didn't have time, because Harrison had his pedal to the metal the entire time. He whips from one tense situation to the next, and all I could do was hang on for dear life. Occasionally I thought that hero Ray Grant had a few too many McGyver-like tricks up his sleeve, and the descriptions of the global market manipulations sometimes bogged down the action, but I'm nit-picking. It's a well-told thriller – try it for your next long plane trip.

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