Read Hard Hard City by Jim Fusilli Free Online
Book Title: Hard Hard City|
The author of the book: Jim Fusilli
ISBN 13: 9780425204474
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 39.56 MB
Date of issue: September 6th 2005
Reader ratings: 8.8
Loaded: 205 times
Read full description of the books Hard Hard City:
This book caught my attention walking through a bookstore. So I’m looking at is, reading the jacket copy, and wondering how I have missed this author and this series, because it’s got three things that I really like: a thoughtful, troubled, not always likeable main character (Terry Orr, an author turned private investigator); it’s set in modern day Manhattan — and not an idealized Manhattan, either; and there’s an extended cast of wonderful, very vivid characters.
Hard, Hard City is already the fourth book in this series, so I forced myself to go back and start with the first one. I’ve now read Closing Time and A Well-Known Secret, and as soon as I can get hold of Tribeca Blues and Hard, Hard City, I’ll read those. This review really covers all the ones I've read thus far.
Fusilli is a journalist, and he has an excellent website with lots of interesting essays. The essay “Why I stopped reviewing crime fiction” originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It gave me a lot to think about.
In any case, I would recommend these novels, which may not be flawless, but which are pretty damn good all the way around.
We meet Terry Orr at a bad time in his life. He had been a successful author, blissfully married with a young daughter and a two-year old son, when a madman shoves the baby’s stroller off a subway platform into the path of an express train. Terry’s wife Marina, an accomplished artist, goes after the boy to try to save him, and they both die. Terry is left with his ten year old daughter, Bella, some close friends, and a need for revenge that charges right over the line into obsession, and without apology.
These are crime novels with plots. Terry gets involved in the lives of people around him. When there is a crime that touches him, he takes it on, and pursues it. The violent act that changed his own life is a constant backdrop in the first two novels, but it’s not really integrated into the plots themselves.
Fusilli took on quite a challenge, approaching things this way. We’ve got the larger story: a character study of a man in terrible pain, struggling to make sense of things, to keep moving forward; he’s got a young daughter who needs him, after all. (And Bella is, without a doubt, my favorite character in these novels. I like her much more than I like her father.) Superimposed on that we get the individual crime plots in each of the books. Both elements are crucial, but Fusilli balances them far better in the second novel than he does in the first.
I liked the first novel — Closing Time — for its descriptions of Manhattan, and for the characterizations of the people closest to Terry. They were vivid and believable, touching and irritating, intriguing in many different ways. In contrast, the characters who were part of the murder investigation were flatter and felt — I suppose the only word that really works — unpolished. Not badly written, not at all: just distinctly less interesting than the main characters.
But the second novel. The Well-Known Secret gives me the sense of Fusilli as an author who has become comfortable with what he’s trying to do. He branches out a little in his approach in ways that really work for me. The novel starts with a newspaper article, an interest piece written about Terry, his background his losses, his daughter, his new work. I love bringing different kinds of texts into novels, and this is an excellent example of how to do that. It provides the backstory in an intriguing, clean, detached way, something Terry himself could not do as a first person narrator.
More than that, this novel is set post 9/11 in the very neighborhood that was most devastated by the loss of the Twin Towers. Terry’s daughter goes to a school where more than half the kids in her class have lost at least one parent in the attack; they were unable to enter their home for a month, and had to live in a hotel. I got a real sense of what it was like to survive 9/11 in TriBeCa, and to go on surviving it, but without even a touch of pathos. Here and there Terry provides details of what those days were like, simply, powerfully. This novel is worth reading for that aspect alone.
The bad news is, I don’t like Terry much. He is a man in pain, yes. He has suffered terribly, but he also wallows. I wanted to smack him by the end of this novel. So did a few of his fellow characters. This was only partly ameliorated by the absolutely perfect tone and pacing of the final chapter, where Terry goes with Bella to the subway station where Marina and Davy were so violently murdered, for the first time. I won’t say anything more about this chapter other than this: it deserves to be read.
I am sorry I was unaware of Jim Fusilli’s work for so long. I’m hoping there will be many more novels to come.
Read information about the authorJim Fusilli is a music critic for The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
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