The Fixer

9780525954613_p0_v3_s192x300In Joseph Finder’s The Fixer, Rick Hoffman finds a pile of hundred-dollar bills – over three million dollars – in the crawl space of his father’s old house in Boston.  With this electrifying premise, Hoffman begins a tale of corruption and undercover payoffs connected to Boston’s Big Dig.

Rick, an investigative reporter who has just lost his job, while happy to find the unexpected windfall, suspects his father, now paralyzed by a stroke, could reveal the secrets behind the mystery – if only he could speak.  As he investigates his father’s past, Rick discovers a crusading attorney who helped the underdog but who also funded his pro bono cases with laundered money from illegal sources. Rick’s father was the “fixer,” a go-between who was rewarded with cash.

The story has frantic moments, red herrings, and enough plot turns to sustain the suspense but I found myself just wanting to know “how the story ends,” and skipping over extraneous dialogue and irrelevant descriptions.  The big reveal included a happy ending, with the good guys getting the bad guys.

A fast summer read full of dirty money and atonement – The Fixer was a fun way to pass the time.  Maybe it’s time to clean out the attic – no telling what is in there.

The Chopin Manuscript

A serial thriller? One written by committee?  Jeffrey Deaver created a ploy to market a new writer’s organization.  The Chopin Manuscript, has each successive chapter written by a famous writer of mystery thrillers – 15 participated.  If you are a fan of the genre, you may recognize the names:

  • David Hewson (The Fallen Angel)
  • James Grady (Six days of the Condor)
  • S.J. Rozan (The Shanghai Moon)
  • Erica Spindler (Blood Vines)
  • John Ramsey Miller (Inside Out)
  • David Corbett (Do they Know I’m Running?)
  • John Gilstrap  (Threat Warning)
  • Joseph Finder (Buried Secrets)
  • Jim Fusilli (Hard Hard City)
  • Peter Spiegelman (Thick as Thieves)
  • Ralph Pezzullo (Eve Missing)
  • Lisa Scottolin (Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog)
  • P.J. Parrish (A Thousand Bones)
  • Lee Child (Worth Dying For)
  • Jeffrey Deaver  (Edge)
Deaver created the characters and started the plot with Harold Middleton, a former criminal investigator, who has a Chopin manuscript that has a secret message in the margin notes.  The book follows a 39 Steps plot, by having Middleton as a fugitive, running from country to country, unaware of the secret, and pursued by criminals as well as the law, with his chief pursuer – a man named Faust.  After 14 plot twists by each succeeding author, Deaver wraps up the action in the last chapter.

Like anything written by a committee, the parts are better than the whole, but you might recognize your favorite author’s style (helped by the name of the author writing the chapter clearly written above the beginning of the chapter), or find a few new ones.  I’m a Lee Child fan, and could see Jack Reacher prowling in the wings.

The story is fun but convoluted; you might do better to find a whole book by one of the authors listed.

Rating: ✓✓ (see my rating legend below)

Rating System:
✓✓✓✓✓ – Don’t miss it!  Hope you like it as much as I did.

✓✓✓✓ – You should read it (my opinion anyway)
✓✓✓ – Worth a try – at least to the first 50 pages

✓✓ –  You might need some chocolate to get you through

✓ – Watch TV instead