Harrison's latest offers look at gory side of New York

"The Finder"' (Sara Crichton Books, 336 pages, $25), by Collin Harrison: Harrison, whose past offerings such as "Manhattan Nocturne" and "The Havana Room" have offered well-plotted, intense mysteries, serves up a less satisfying and much gorier story this time.

Beginning with an extremely brutal multiple murder, "The Finder" is packed with action, but it lacks the believability of Harrison's earlier novels.

The murders send Jin Li, a beautiful, young Chinese woman who is saved by a well-timed bathroom break, on the run. Fortunately for her, Ray Grant, the hero of the novel and her former boyfriend, seems to have nothing to do but care for his father " a former police officer who is dying " leaving him plenty of time to help out Li.

Li really needs the help.

Although she works as a supervisor for a company that cleans office buildings, Li's real job is stealing information from them and supplying it to her brother's company. He in turn is using it to clean up on the stock market.

"As she prowled the target offices at night, Jin Li moved with light-footed efficiency, for if you clean offices everyday, you know a lot about them. Normally, she received plans of the floors that CorpServe cleaned and made a point always to ask if there were any sensitive elements of the job, such as a CEO who stayed late, which offices needed to be vacuumed daily because of allergies, which vacuumed less frequently, etc. All in the guise of providing excellent service. ..."

But it also provided her with a blue print of where the good stuff was.

The scheme runs afoul of Good Pharma, a drug company that seems on the verge of introducing some exciting new products, and has discovered what Li is really up to. For Grant, a former firefighter who was seriously injured in the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, the race is on to find Li and save her before the bad guys can get to her.

As always, Harrison's characters " those of low and high society in New York City " are detailed. In "The Finder," they are also broad in scope.

The people here range from millionaire investors to a hit man with an especially gory means of disposing of the corpses he creates. The executive of Good Pharma is equally strung out from the stress of trying to make the company successful and the chemicals he's ingesting.

This is far from Harrison's best work, and many of the plot twists and turns are contrived and sometimes downright silly. The book moves rapidly, though, and for those who are willing to worry less about believability, it offers a face-paced venture into the seamy side of the big city.


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