Joseph Finder,
(Dutton, 2014)

When Danny Goodman accepts a $50,000 loan from his new friend, the very wealthy Tom Galvin, he finds himself caught up without warning in a situation that can only work out badly for him.

The situation comes about because Goodman's and Galvin's daughters attend the same very expensive private school ands have become best friends. In fact, Goodman's daughter, Abby, is the only friend of Galvin's daughter, a formerly troubled girl who is beginning to come out of her shell and join the world as a result of the friendship. Galvin knows Goodman has money troubles so he lends Goodman the money he needs to keep Abby in the school so that his own kid won't be friendless again.

As soon as Goodman wires the tuition to the school, two DEA agents show up. Galvin, it seems, is connected to the biggest drug cartel in Mexico and the DEA wants to turn him. Goodman is their access. He must cooperate or he will, as a result of spending drug money, become an accomplice and serve hard time.

Goodman's situation is complicated by the fact that he and Galvin become legitimate friends, as do their families. Living a double life, as he has been forced to do, Goodman faces danger from all sides: if he is discovered, the cartel will kill him and possibly his daughter. If he doesn't fulfill the DEA's wishes, he goes to prison.

Then the plot gets complicated.

The question is, as he slips deeper and deeper into a mess he can't control, can Goodman find a way to extricate himself from a situation that is impossible?

Joseph Finder, a veteran thriller writer -- this is his eleventh work of fiction -- clearly knows his way around a crime novel. His plot is strong and he knows how to take his time developing it; in fact, the slow pace of the beginning of the book works against it, but once it starts moving, especially when Goodman stops being a victim and begins to fight back, no reader will be complaining about the slow start. Like Stephen King, Finder prefers the plain style of narration. He prose is never fancy, but is always serviceable; rather than delight in itself, it propels the story, which is his purpose.

If you like Joseph Finder, you'll enjoy this one. If you've never read him, Suspicion is a good place to start.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

27 September 2014

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