cover image Shaker


Scott Frank. Knopf, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-35003-7

Screenwriter Frank’s well-plotted first novel will remind readers of Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. Hit man Roy Cooper flies from New York to Los Angeles to kill someone five days after L.A. suffers a major earthquake. The hit goes smoothly, but as Roy is searching for his rental car in North Hollywood, he sees three street kids, “none older than fourteen, fifteen tops,” taunting an old man in an alley. Roy intervenes, but he can’t prevent a kid armed with a .25 from shooting the man dead. The murder is caught on video, and the identity of the victim—a mayoral candidate viewed as a legitimate force for reform—gives Roy, who was wounded in the encounter, a higher profile than he’d like. Frank integrates Roy’s story, complete with flashbacks, with that of Science, one of the young thugs, and of Kelly Maguire, an LAPD officer with a reputation for racism, along the way revealing their inner lives in impressive psychological detail. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Jan.)