New York Times best-selling author Joseph Finder delivers his next breakneck standalone thriller about the secrets families can keep and the danger of their discovery.
When former investigative reporter Rick Hoffman loses his job, fiancée, and apartment, his only option is to move back into - and renovate - the home of his miserable youth, now empty and in decay since the stroke that put his father in a nursing home.
As Rick starts to pull apart the old house, he makes an electrifying discovery - millions of dollars hidden in the walls. It's enough money to completely transform Rick's life - and everything he thought he knew about his father. Yet the more of his father's hidden past that Rick brings to light, the more dangerous his present becomes. Soon he finds himself on the run from deadly enemies desperate to keep the past buried, and only solving the mystery of his father - a man who has been unable to communicate, comprehend, or care for himself for almost 20 years - will save Rick...if he can survive long enough to do it.
©2015 Joseph Finder (P)2015 Penguin Audio
I've enjoyed all of Joseph Finder's books, read/listened to most of them more than once, but this new one, "The Fixer" isn't my favorite, not by a long shot. It's a fairly good novel. In listening, I never once went away with the fairies, never had to backtrack, so it's interesting enough. No complaints there.
But. I'm trying to isolate what the issue was. How about this: there are many of us who complain about books in which the gorgeous young female protagonist, knowing there is a vicious killer lurking out there somewhere, will hear a noise at night, and decide to go outside and investigate, all by herself, right? Well, here we've got her male counterpart.
I'm not sure what the exact diagnosis is -- naive, gullible, too-trusting, not sufficiently cynical or maybe just plain dumb, but this guy gets himself in more "fixes" (how about that?!) than any reasonably aware 30-something would ever do. When we get to the last hour of the book, and once again, Rick heads off by himself into what is obviously a danger zone -- while I'm sure the entire reading audience is screaming, "DON'T GO -- ARE YOU NUTS??" -- he goes anyway. Happily. Confidently. Good grief -- whaddya gonna do with a guy like that? Honestly, his too-trusting character gets almost silly.
One avenue I thought Finder was going to take -- but he didn't -- was typical: At the very beginning, Finder has Rick (who found all this money) go out and make several $9000 deposits into bank accounts at several different banks, saying he knows he's safe from "Homeland Security" if he keeps it under $10,000. Finder might ask former Congressman Denny Hastert how well that kind of thing worked for him. Pretty silly -- or naive -- for Rick to think he could simply obey the letter of the law and Homeland Security would leave him alone. Maybe there's room for a sequel there, when the feds take after Rick which, sooner or later, they surely would.
Two positive things: they chose exactly the right narrator. Steven Kearney's boyish "Aw shucks gee whiz" voice quality is just perfect for the gullible Rick. The narration is great -- Kearney does well on the Irish accents, too. Well done.
And secondly, the novel is a fine meditation on fathers and sons, what sons know about their fathers, how much they don't know, but make judgments about anyway. I resonated with that on my maternal side. I never really knew my mother, wish I'd had the chance Rick had, to discover something about her that would have changed the way I remember her. In that sense, it's a fine novel indeed.
So? Not Finder's best -- "Company Man" remains my all time favorite. But still, worth a listen.
I think I'm so disappointed because I've liked Joseph Finder so much, yet this is one of the worst books I've listened to on Audible. The main character had a flaw we call "TSTL" -- "too stupid to live." I never understood his motivations, and his reactions/behaviors made no sense. The character is just not engaged emotionally, kind of floats along, no intensity in his manner, for someone in such a dire situation. He hardly seems aware his situation is dire. The frank manner of the voice artist doesn't help much.I don't think any of this is a spoiler -- there's not much plot to spoil. He finds a huge bundle of plastic-wrapped cash hidden in the walls of his dad's house. His first response? "I'm rich." Or so it seems, because he starts on a lavish spending spree. I've watched enough TV to know you can't just start throwing around a bunch of mysterious cash. Call an attorney, call a banker, or law enforcement.His dad -- who can't speak due to a stroke, gets very agitated and fearful when the money is mentioned. But the main character takes no clue.Until he's abducted by some bad folks that put his hand to a saw blade. "Who have you been talking to?" they demand. He never answers their question, but they just magically let him go with a warning. The NEXT day, after getting some coffee, he thinks to himself, "I guess I should make it a priority to find out where that money came from." YOU THINK?Multiple times the character thinks, I guess I should try to be careful now, and changes his hotel or a rental car. But we feel no emotions or intensity from him. And he'll say "Is that car following me? I'm just being paranoid." Some people nearly CUT OFF YOUR HAND! And you still think you're just being paranoid?Overall, I see no good reason that the character doesn't just go to the police. There are some Irish-accented guys involved, and the issue reaches some large players within that city... but the big conspiracy just seems lame in the end.He's given a really valid chance to back out of it all (around 95% of the way through), and he doesn't. I just don't understand his motivations.I could say more, but you get the point, if you've read the review this far.
Write with more emotional connection.I just listened to Company Man this year, as well, and The Fixer felt very similar. The main character just seems to float along. In Company Man, he was a CEO but had no idea what was going on is his own company, just in a fog, and so little reaction to very important clues and events that take place.In The Fixer, here's a guy who gets abducted and his hand nearly cut off, and he just kind of takes his time -- going into the newspaper office, calling around, thinking "hmmm, switching hotels every couple of nights kind of sucks." I have zero sympathy for him. He seems to lack integrity -- both in his past relationships and jobs, and in his current spending of cash. The slight turn toward integrity at the end doesn't show growth, it makes no sense to keep pursing the bad guys at that point, in my opinion.
Yes. He's good -- but doesn't really get intense or emotional. Could've been the book, but he didn't seem to be able to help it any. Very frank, straight-forward reading.
Hoping for better on Finder's next book.
I have to admit I didn’t start listening to audiobooks until I started at Audible (Shhh don’t tell anyone), but have since become addicted!
The Fixer is one of those seemingly rare occurrences these days, the stand-alone thriller! I love books where the main character is an average person (Rick Hoffman is a journalist who just lost his job) who gets put into an extraordinary situation. I like to wonder when I am listening how I would respond when faced with similar circumstances. While renovating his childhood home Rick finds something (I won't spoil it, but you'll find out within the first few minutes) in a boarded up wall (any guesses?) that sets off a chain of events that puts him and his loved ones in mortal danger. I'll leave it for you to decide how Rick handles what happens, but one thing you can count on - once you start The Fixer you won't want to stop!
Jeff used to be an investigative reporter. He’s currently unemployed. His father has been in a nursing home for 18 years. Jeff finds a large stash of money in his father’s home. He begins investigating. His father cannot speak or communicate.
My only hesitation was why Jeff didn’t carry a weapon to protect himself. He was beaten and his life threatened more than once - because powerful people did not want him digging in the past. One time he knew who beat him, but he did not tell the cops. I wish the author explained motivations for those things better.
I was sooo happy the author wrote this in 3rd person. He has written other books in 1st person. I don’t like reading 1st person.
Steven Kearney was pretty good, but not as good as Will Patton and Frank Mueller. Some of his reading was wooden. For example: “Why don’t you tell me, Rick said acidly.” The narrator read this in a regular tone of voice instead of “acidly.” The recording equipment was good because I did not hear Kearney’s breaths - yay.
Narrative mode: 3rd person.
Genre: mystery suspense.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
I enjoyed The Fixer. The novel is about an out of work reporter who moves back into his childhood home and finds millions of dollars hidden there. The find puts his life at risk from the real owners of the money. This is a suspense thriller.
The story is completely absurd. And the one time it almost got a little better, it went right off the deep end again. In the years and years I have been an audible member and the hundreds of books I have downloaded, this is one of the top three worst. just a stupid premise and bad story. Very disappointing from an author i really liked.
It'll be a while before its another Joseph Finder. very disappointed.
Sure, he as fine. Not his fault the story was absurd.
Anger. A waste of my time, until I finally moved on. One of the handful books I haven't finished
I love the last 150 years of history. Bully Pulpit and the Wilson biography absolute best!
This is a sloppy story with very predictable action, an unsympathetic hero and a poor narrator.
Born with earbuds.
Joseph Finder is a very good writer. Usually he creates memorable characters that make his stories shine, even when the plot isn't spectacular. And then there is usually a neat piece of technology thrown in to great effect.
It saddens me to say that this book is riddled with flaws from the nonsensical actions of the protagonist, errors concerning the law, firearms, and medicine, as well as painful dialog. Rather than reading like a Finder novel, this comes off as a poor attempt to appropriate Coben's secrets-from-the-past and Grisham's morally-conflicted-middle-age-male-in-jeopardy sub-genres. At least in Grisham novels, the conflicted protagonist grows and/or learns something of value such as what is really important in life.
While I had no trouble finishing this book, my suspension of disbelief was suspended early on and I found myself judging the book rather than enjoying it. If you can be oblivious to the book's flaw you may enjoy it. I suspect that if you enjoy the Boston setting and politics, you may forgive more of the flaws.
Without spoiling too much, here is a feel for what made me unfriend this book:
* All characters regardless of age, race, origin, sex, etc. like to say "and such".
* The protagonist apparently doesn't get along with his dad even though everyone thinks his dad is awesome including the protagonist, who gives little reason for not liking his dad.
* The protagonist finds money that isn't his, insists on keeping it and spending it, seemingly for no other reason than he is stupid and wants to die.
* The supposedly clever protagonist apparently has to investigate why people want to kill him for taking that which doesn't belong to him. This clever guy speculates that safe-deposit boxes are monitored for cash contents, and believes that lots of $9,000 deposits are okay, because banks only care about $10,000+ deposits. (Advice: if you are laundering money, don't make it look like you are trying to stay just under $10,000.)
* The warm-hearted protagonist is more than happy to risk the lives of people around him for no particular reason. It's okay because he teaches an 8-year old a pencil trick.
* The oh-so-ethical protagonist plans to give half of the found cash that he didn't earn to his sister because that's only fair, but will give not one red cent to stop those who will kill him.
* Our heroic protagonist knows that doggedness, stubbornness and determination, are his strengths, and so he is committed to using that stick-to-itiveness to renege on deals, burn bridges, and foist lies on himself and others.
* A shotgun is used as if it is a sniper rifle. Call me dubious even if the gun has slugs.
* Decades old fraud cover-ups apparently don't benefit from statutes of limitations.
* We are supposed to sympathize with the main character even though he deserved to lose his job, to be dumped by his girl-friend, and to be kicked out of his apartment.
* Apparently all you have to do as an investigative journalist is clerks donuts that they can't eat because of their diet and then they work tirelessly to give you all the data you need without you having to do any investigation. Actually in this respect their is some similarity with the main character and his hero's of Woodward & Bernstein.
The bottom line is that this book could have been so much more, but Finder never finds a thread or a theme or an organic plot to hold things together. When suspense and drama finally start to build, punches and pulled and mediocrity ensues. The stakes are so very low, the story could have just as easily been about a drunk driver that gets sued for wrongful death.
First-rate narration. Good voice differentiation and accurate accents.
The main character.
Yes. I could listen while I worked.
Rick Hoffman because we got to watch him mature over the course of the story.
Steven Kearney captures the characters perfectly.
Yes - it turned out that way.
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