Henry Parker seems to have everything going his way. He is young and has landed a prestigious journalism job at The New York Gazette. When famed newsman Jack O’Donnell asks Parker to work a story with him, Parker jumps at the chance.
Sent to interview ex-convict Luis Guzman and gather a good half-dozen quotes, it seems an easy enough task. Easy that is, until Parker stumbles into a violent confrontation that results in his being charged with a cop’s murder. Parker panics and runs. Things get worse. The dead cop has dirty Mafia affiliations. With both law enforcement and the mob after him, Parker’s frantic journey results in a fast-action, page-turning read.
The Mafia mistakenly believes that Parker took a package containing valuable secret information from Guzman, and they send the notorious killer Ringer after him. Ringer’s a man of mythological stature for how he kills his victims, while surviving near death himself.
The plot circumstances surrounding Parker are familiar, but interestingly conjoined — think “The Fugitive” colliding with “The Sopranos.”
The story excels with its characterizations, particularly the refreshing Parker and his companion-in-harm’s-way, law student Amanda Davies. There is chemistry between these two companions on the lam.
The writing is solid throughout the novel, and the dialogue is peppered with humor. There are poignant stretches where Parker reveals deep emotional conflict and longing. He’s a man-in-a-hurry, with a heart.
Pinter is a native of New York City, and he paints a town he knows intimately. He treats the city like a big backyard and brings the reader down to street-level observations.The novel progresses along on multiple points-of-view, which further energizes the story. The various characters hunting down Parker include FBI Agent Joe Mauser, who wants to avenge the death of murdered cop John Frederickson; and Michael Di Forio, the psychopath Mafioso who wants his missing package back.
Manhattan is not very large for hiding, so when Parker decides to run, he heads out of town to St. Louis, for no particular reason other than to get distance. The final battleground takes place in Manhattan, as Parker returns to confront his enemies.
Befitting a novel of quick tempo populated by angry law enforcement and wiseguys, the ending packs a punch of fire power, and unexpected results. There are more Henry Parker novels coming, and it’s worth the price of admission to find out what life has in store for this honest journalist.