Dutton/Penguin/Random House, $28.00, 375 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-95461-3
Do you remember a public works scheme called The Central Artery/Tunnel Project? It was started in 1982 and completed on the last day of December 2007. It was projected to cost 2.8 billion dollars, the final tab amounted to some 14.6 billon and will ultimately cost the taxpayers about 22 billion after interest on the bonds is paid. It was called The Big Dig. It took place in Boston, Massachusetts; it was the most expensive single highway project ever undertaken in America. Plagued by leaks, engineering and design flaws, poor workmanship, substandard materials and criminality . . . the whole damn thing was mostly paid for with Federal tax dollars, you and I and every other American taxpayer will be paying for it for the next twenty-some years! And it’s all been done so that traffic can move through Boston more easily. Sounds like a great deal . . . if you live and drive through the city of Boston all the time. I wasn’t going to mention the Kennedy family’s part in all this, but the fact that the last phase of the Big Dig was a 1.5 mile greenway—a series of parks and public spaces named for Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it. Is this a great country or what . . .
The Big Dig and its aftermath are at the red beating heart of a tense and exciting new thriller that ought to make it onto everyone’s summer reading list.
The Fixer, by Joseph Finder, begins with a reality check for protagonist Rick Hoffman. He’s an investigative reporter who’s lost his job, his fiancé and his apartment. With no money and nowhere else to go, he’s sleeping on a couch in a derelict house in Cambridge that used to be his family home. His mother is deceased, sister lives 3,000 miles away in Washington State, and his father—once a practicing attorney—has been a vegetable in a nursing home for the past twenty years as a result of a devastating stroke. Rick’s prospects are slim. He’s been trying to sell the decaying house for several years, but all potential buyers have been scared off by the aged run-down property, which they can plainly see is a money pit. Out of options and desperate, Rick makes a deal with a neighbor, who’ll fix up the decrepit old homestead for half of the proceeds when it sells. But just as they start slapping the lipstick on the pig, Rick discovers a hoard of cash, hidden in a built-in compartment and his entire world is upended once again. As Rick Hoffman soon finds out, however, some things are better left alone, some secrets shouldn’t be discovered, and some forces, once set in motion, cannot be contained.
And hey . . . who among us hasn’t dreamed about driving down a deserted road and finding a boxfull of cash, thinking that all our cares and worries would disappear. Maybe so . . . maybe not. Read this wickedly good yarn and find out what it does for one naïve young schlepper as he digs the skeletons from his family closets.