cover image Metropolis


B.A. Shapiro. Algonquin, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61620-958-2

The tepid latest art-tangential mystery from Shapiro (The Collector’s Apprentice) revolves around the tenants of a Boston-area storage space. Rose, the manager of Metropolis, a castle-like facility near MIT, takes kickbacks from those who illegally live in their units. Then there’s a disastrous accident on the facility’s elevator. The who and why don’t come out until the end. In the aftermath, owner Zach, a rudderless yuppie, goes into foreclosure, and the insurance company auctions off everything that’s left. Live-in tenants include Marta, a PhD student from Venezuela who’s in the country illegally; Serge, a troubled photographer; and Jason, a lawyer and whistleblower who, having lost his high-powered job, now works out of Metropolis. Liddy, married to a nasty real estate mogul, also pays Rose for the privilege of setting up a shrine to the children her jealous husband sent away to boarding school. Jason agrees to take on Marta’s case, and Liddy, too, decamps to Metropolis, after she bonds with Marta and decides to leave her husband. Meanwhile, Zach discovers scads of Serge’s photos, which he believes he can profit from, and Rose’s family situation becomes desperate. With flat characterization and a predictable plot, Shaprio plods toward a happy ending. This lacks the frisson of the author’s earlier books. (May)