Two years ago, writer Terry Orr was living a charmed life in Manhattan with his wife, Marina, a beautiful and accomplished artist, their young daughter and their infant son. And then in a heartbeat, all their lives were brutally shattered with the senseless murder of Marina and the baby by an insane man named Raymond Weisz.
Two years after the killings, Weisz remains at large. Frustrated by what he believes to be the incompetence and/or inattention of the police department, Terry abandons his career as a writer and becomes a private investigator. He's his own principal client and his obsession is to capture Weisz.
In the meantime, he has a twelve-year-old daughter to raise. The daughter, Bella, is an enormously attractive character, perhaps wise beyond her years and in some ways, perhaps even more mature than her own father. As an example, the two have been separately seeing the same therapist who is attempting to help them deal with their grief. Bella is open to the idea and seems to be making progress; her father not so much.
Happily, the success that Terry and Marina enjoyed in their respective professions has left Terry with enough money to pursue his investigation while at the same time placing Bella in an excellent school and hiring a housekeeper/cook/babysitter to help him raise her.
One evening, Bella convinces her father to take her to an opening at the gallery where her mother's paintings were exhibited. During the show, a bomb goes off, wounding the gallery owner who had represented Marina. Terry begins investigating the bombing and at the same time becomes virtually obsessed with the story of an African-American cab driver who was savagely murdered in a seedy part of town. When the police seem unwilling to devote much time to the crime, Terry takes on that investigation too.
This is a complex and very entertaining novel that works at several levels. It's interesting to watch Terry pursue his investigations, and it's even more fascinating to observe the relationship between him and his daughter. It's clear that he loves her very much, and yet he seems incapable of understanding the danger that his choices pose for Bella. The poor girl has already lost her mother and her brother; she has only her father left. And yet, as much as he loves her, Terry often places himself in considerable peril, risking the chance that Bella will lose him too.
All of the characters in the book, even the minor ones, are very deftly drawn, and Mr. Fusilli, who is himself the pop and rock music critic for the Wall Street Journal has included in the cast a very entertaining music critic.
One of the best things about the novel is the way in which Fusilli has described the city of New York. Interestingly, this book was first published the day before the attacks of 9/11, and in his hands, the city comes brilliantly to life in all its glory and despair. It's obvious that Fusilli knows the city inside and out, and the reader feels like he or she is walking the streets right along side Terry Orr--not always the most comfortable feeling when he's picking his way through abandoned buildings in the dead of night.
For some reason, this novel is apparently not yet available as an e-book, but print copies are still readily available, and anyone looking for an entertaining and thought-provoking read would do him or herself a very great favor by seeking it out.