THE MONEY by David Shawn Klein reads like an exceptionally good season of the hit television show (and Breaking Bad prequel) Better Call Saul, though its New York feel is more reminiscent of Jonathan Lethem’s thrillers. Like Saul Goodman, attorney Henry Krakow–the black sheep of the family–lives in the shadow of his family’s legal legacy. Or maybe he’s the white sheep since he doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his nefarious father. Henry wants to walk the straight and narrow. But he doesn’t want to do it his wife’s way: become a faceless “house counsel” in a New York mega-firm. No, Henry has to do it his way…hard, dangerous, and barely legal. He’s a good attorney. Not only good in court, but a good man with good intentions. He longs to regain his wife’s love and respect, and he’s a great father to his son. But as a low-rent lawyer specializing in cutting street deals where scams abound–even minor characters are always looking for an angle–Henry can’t help but fall in with an unwieldy cast of characters.
It begins innocently enough; Henry is tasked to help a gangster acquire a fake ID. In Robin Hood fashion, Henry plans to give the gangster’s money to a punchy boxer trying to raise two kids alone. But things take a left turn when Henry’s sexy nanny, Cipka, gets involved, double-crossing both the gangster and his ID forger. Thugs trash Henry’s law office and he’s evicted. Henry’s wife throws him out, convinced he’s sleeping with Cipka. But Cipka’s been kidnapped. The gangster wants his cash and forged documents back, as well as Henry’s late father’s legal influence to push through a shady casino deal on Coney Island. The casino, if approved, would displace a church congregation and families still living in the fallout of Hurricane Sandy. Scams abound; even minor characters are always looking for an angle.
Henry’s a likable hero, in too deep but smart enough to figure a way out. The heart of THE MONEY is Henry’s relationship with others, the way he treats people and the way people treat him. Even the people who love Henry look down on him, peg him for an underachiever. But they don’t understand what he’s trying to achieve and how he plans to achieve it. As a result, they underestimate him. Klein writes with a gritty narrative style reminiscent of crime greats like Raymond Chandler and Rex Stout and does a great job creating a hero who’s righteous, smart, and funny, yet still rooted in realism.
THE MONEY is an outstanding thriller–fast-paced and fun–filled with outrageous twists, genuine mystery, and acerbic wit.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader