When my box of ARCs came from Curled Up, my intrepid non-book-reading husband held this one up and said, You should read this first…it’s shiny. I couldn’t find a picture online that would convey to you just HOW shiny, but let’s just say that I do my make-up in the back cover sometimes.
This book was surprisingly awesome. It’s effing long, so if near-on 700 pages of gritty, seedy (I feel like I should wash my mouth out), New-York-underbelly isn’t your style, maybe take a pass. But I wouldn’t have said it’s my style either, and I marched through this book in two days (it helped that the first day I was getting my hair done, and I go to a hairdressing school because I’m poor, so they’ll cut and dye you at half the price, but you’d better bring some snacks and wear comfortable pants, because you’re in that chair for the whole day).
Ok, there’s a good bajillion plot lines, and the first quarter of the book is all learning about this and that guy, and then all of a sudden there’s this guy over here, and what does he have to do with anything, and there’s all sorts of crazy business going on so that you hardly notice when The Thing happens, i.e. Rich White Guy’s illicit lover hits Poor Black Kid with Rich White Guy’s car. And it sounds terribly cold of me to say that this is a trivial event, but it just sort of happens incidentally and then the characters move on with their lives.
Except oh no! The kid ends up in hospital in a near-fatal coma, and then this one guy decides to use this to bolster his status as Community Leader, and attacks this other guy who is gunning for re-election as District Attorney in the (predominately black) Bronx, and so this other guy has to find the Rich White Guy or be branded a racist and evicted from office, and then the first guy sics this other guy who’s a derelict, washed-up journalist on the story, and then yet another guy who’s sick of putting poor black kids behind bars develops a hankering for the Great White Defendant and decides that Rich White Guy is going down regardless of the evidence, and so the whole thing becomes a huge ordeal with the public hollering for Rich White Guy’s blood, and his illicit lover has now split town so that he can’t prove it was her driving, and his wife’s understandably pissed, and there’s drama and underhandedness and ulterior motives flying everywhere!!! Trust me, it’s great.
And while I’m totally politically dumb, I actually got why this and that and the other thing were important to this, that, and the other guy’s careers (or sex lives). And while I honestly don’t understand the stock market (like, at all! How does Wall Street even work?), those bits were short and not terribly germane to the plot, so I just sort of trundled through them. Although I’m sure if you were into stocks and bonds and such, you’d be all, yeah! Rad!
Even though I could have put the book down anywhere in the first third and not really cared if I picked it up again (because the various plots hadn’t come together yet, or even sort of nodded at each other from across the dance floor), it didn’t drag. Wolfe is quite a capable writer, and as long as you aren’t consumed by the burning ‘But where is this going,’ you’ll be fine.
Also, it’s set in the 80s, so the outfits are hilarious.