After a lengthy, but never boring, setup, Spiegelman's first novel pitches from one taut, suspenseful scene to another, with New York PI John March at the center but also including an impressive cast of allies, adversaries and interlopers. The author lays out the collapse of financial giant MWB (Merchant's Worldwide Bank) and the subsequent federal investigations in detail. March's friend, lawyer Michael Metz, hires him to help a client, an officer at a major investment bank. It appears that fallout from MWB's collapse has prompted a blackmailer to use information seemingly derived from MWB documents to threaten Metz's client with exposure that would ruin his career. Real or manufactured, this data would be damaging. March must be careful, of course, not to step on federal toes. From computers to shoe leather, March's dogged search is entertaining, plausible and ultimately dangerous. Nothing about this stylish, literate mystery reads like a debut, as Spiegelman handles the complex plot with verve and artfully sets the stage for a backstory with mere hints about the trauma that drove March from upstate cop to PI. John March is one of the most intriguing new PIs to come along in quite some time, and if this strong first outing is any indication, he should be in for a long and enjoyable run. (Aug. 17)
Forecast:With a 75,000-copy first printing and its fascinating picture of the financial world, this first mystery is a likely candidate for extra printings. BOMC selection.
Release date: 08/01/2003