Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Well-Known SecretA Well-Known Secret by Jim Fusilli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"[...] I knew that whatever tolerance I'd developed for this fetid game, this depravity, this charade of life, had been exceeded. And now I was sick of everything: sick of taxis, of midtown, of the small whitecaps on the gray Hudson, of the scavenger seagulls; sick of stumbling across death while life continued for the corrupt who readily corrupt, and, having done so, thrive."

Jim Fusilli's A Well-Known Secret (2002) is a continuation of his Closing Time . In fact, I feel like I have never stopped reading the first book and this is its second part. While the crime plot is different, almost all leading characters are the same, and they have not changed much. I have hoped for more substantial changes in the second installment of the Terry Orr's series, but the author went for replicating the success of Closing Time.

Terry Orr, an ex-writer, now a P.I. in New York, is asked by his housekeeper to find her friend's daughter, Sonia, who disappeared after being released from prison. She had served a very long sentence on a Murder One conviction for a brutal slaying of a diamond dealer. Terry begins the search, but when another murder happens it becomes clear that the roots of Sonia's disappearance are buried deep in the past, and Terry has to solve a 30-year-old case, working against some members of the police force, but with the help of his friends in the DA's office.

When reading A Well-Known Secret one has a feeling that the crime thread is incidental to the two main stories: the story of Terry and his precocious 14-year-old daughter, Bella, who are trying to overcome the extreme trauma of losing Terry's wife and son at the hands of a madman a few years earlier. The other thread that feels more important than the "crime plot" is the story of the post-9/11 New York. The novel conveys, with chilling accuracy, the sense of the place and the pain of the deep wounds in the city's collective psyche.

Even though the novel is for all practical reasons a rehash of Closing Time, I enjoyed it because it is well written. I can forgive authors a lot if they write well. I am even willing to forgive them writing the same book all over again.

Three stars.

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