I've read many, many novels, mostly thrillers, and this ranks among the very best. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 10. It's first a really great story, told in the first person by someone who is very good at the job he is hired to do in the plot. A few reviews say his language is too crude or rough or some such. Nonsense. He tells the story in a logical and methodical fashion with an appropriate choice of language. I first read this book a number of years ago and kept my copy. I ran across it yesterday, and I decided to read it again, not something I often do. I couldn't put it down until I finished it again. The guy who said it took him two months to read either had an awful lot of other things on his plate or he's a moron. The story grabs you and you're with the protagonist/narrator every step of the way. You like the "good guys," and you dislike the "bad guys," so the authors must have done his job. I wish that Mr. Topor had some other offerings, but he does not. I thank him mightily for this one. If you like a great detective story, you'll thank me for recommending this book.
I was given this book by my neighbor, probably because I am a Viet-Nam vet and this book, to him, "tells it like it is/was". Not bloody likely. I guess we have John Grisham to blame for perpetuating the "tough-guy" lawyer canon, wherein brave attorneys battle for truth, justice and the American way. Again, highly unlikely. This book reads like a screenplay, with a tough, rogue lawyer, turned private investigator, who takes no guff from those big corporate types that still seem to hunt him down to give him jobs. From what I have read so far, he also "makes a pot of coffee" every chance he gets. This "legal thriller" is a bit dated, with references to diskettes and floppies (There's just no "tough" way to say the word "floppies", is there?) and women pulling out "compacts" to fix their make-up after weeping openly over one of our hero's stories. This, while our hero sweats profusely at the dinner table. Might be all those "pots of coffee". Now, let's get down to business. I am a former Marine, diagnosed with 100% PTSD. Mr. Topor's portrayal of Viet-Nam veterans is appalling. In my opinion, he watched every bad " 'Nam movie" ever made and based his version of a veteran and/or Viet-Nam on that crap. The symptoms displayed in the book are most often seen in "wannabe" veterans to show how "disturbed" they are/ were by what they "went through". I attend several group sessions a month and have never heard gibberish like what I just read. However, if you would like to observe "seething rage", please drop by. Since the hunt for a Vietnamese "love child" is the thrust of the book I think I may just put this book aside and look elsewhere. Semper Fi.
Matt Marshall had a heart attack and died suddenly at age fifty-one. Shortly before his death, he changed his will so that half of his $105 million dollar estate will go to a daughter he fathered while serving in Vietnam. He had never met this daughter and a condition of the will is that she be alive and living in the United States.
Private Investigator, Adam Bruno, son of a bookie, is hired to find the woman. However, since Marshall's family stands to lose half of their inheritance, they aren't helpful. In addition, Matt's friends are from the war and don't like discussing those days with anyone.
One of Adam's strengths is his persistance and he gets around to interview Matt's combat buddies. He makes progress but just when he gets a lead on the missing woman, something stands in his way. Adam doesn't know who it is but the person attempting to stop the investigation doesn't stop at murder. In addition, Matt's family and lawyers claim that he is taking too long, not doing his job and should be replaced.
This is a touching story that was well done. Adam is an easy character to sympathise with, he's honest, determined and an all around good guy. The conclusion was particularly well done and is a scene that should be on film.
Topor's legal thriller has a straightforward plot that never loses its momentum. With virtually nothing to go on, and $50 million at stake, lawyer-turned-investigator Adam Bruno is hired to find the Vietnamese child of a former American captain. The former soldier, Matthew Marshall, returned home to become a telecommunications tycoon worth $100 million. Nothing was known of any illegitimate child until the codicil to his will, made recently and unknown to the partners of his heavy-hitting law firm, comes to light when Marshall dies suddenly of a stroke at his country retreat. The codicil, devastating to Marshall's widow and three spoiled children, provides that the original bequests stand if the Vietnamese child can be proved dead or back in Vietnam. Marshall, a man of vast charm and many women, led a compartmentalized life - his home, the cabin where he went to be solitary, and the secret but long-term New York apartment where he brought his various women. None of his friends or his family recall any mention of his Vietnam experiences, though he did take his children to the Wall in Washington. But, visiting Marshall's country retreat, off-limits to family and friends, Bruno encounters a dangerously crazy Vietnam vet, bristling with weapons and paranoia, who guards Marshall's empty home. And Bruno finds a room dedicated to photos and memorabilia of Vietnam. The people in the photographs are identified only by nicknames and as Bruno begins the painstaking process of identification, most of them seem to be dead. Those still living insist Marshall, upright and married, would never have had anything to do with a Vietnamese woman. Running into one stone wall after another, Bruno's case gets a sudden shot of adrenaline when he receives, anonymously, a letter in Vietnamese, written to Marshall by a Vietnamese man who clearly was searching for the missing woman and child. Slowly, doggedly, Bruno pieces together a dark and painful story, crisscrossing the country by jet and computer. Despite setbacks, false trails and dangerous developments, he digs through layers of lies and complex connections. And, naturally, the family back in New York would like to see him fail and will stop at nothing - perhaps not even homicide - to preserve their inheritance and the power they've come to think is theirs by right. While there's nothing particularly original about the story, Topor's straightforward style suits his narrator protagonist - a resourceful, clever, determined fellow, a loner with very individual but firm scruples. Bruno is likable and only ruthless when nothing less will satisfy. A page turner.