The mob, hockey, and long-buried secrets combine in this vividly drawn, noir-like crime drama.
Jack Cameron’s new crime drama, The Fixer, tests the mettle and conscience of four boyhood friends from New England as they grapple with the lifelong consequences of an “honorable lie.” Character development, suspense, and noir-like uncertainty make The Fixer a worthwhile read.
The plot revolves around Nick Sullivan, a hardworking and respectable NHL star whose old friends show up at an inopportune time in his hockey career. The friends bring with them a secret from their mutual past: someone else took the fall for Sullivan for a manslaughter charge when they were teenagers. When one of the friends, Ryan Cunningham, decides to use the secret as leverage to get Sullivan to throw a big game, the other friends are pulled into a deadly battle of wits with East Coast mobsters.
Cameron is a clean, lean, solid writer. His prose supplies just enough detail to make the action scenes vivid: “Owen rose to one knee, wracked in pain and only semicoherent. The low-hanging moon reflected over the shimmering lake and bathed Tiny’s lifeless body in an eerie light.” He’s likewise skillful in fleshing out his characters slowly, even painstakingly at times. He provides just the right touches to bring his characters to life. Vinnie Spinelli, for example, is the story’s central bad guy, a ruthless Boston mobster looking to impress the higher-ups in New York, and Cameron describes him with notable nuance: “When he finally spoke, his voice wasn’t raised, but it radiated intensity and menace.”
The book’s transitions are also expertly handled. For instance, crucial turning points of the plot are shown through the eyes of tangential characters, including two corrupt NYPD officers. From their points of view, Cunningham is seen making an ill-fated drug run as a favor for Spinelli. The technique lends the narrative structure a mosaic quality. In those same scenes, however, there’s too much exposition crammed into the characters’ dialogue, making their speech sound unnaturally explanatory. This happens not just in the conversation between the NYPD officers, but also in later scenes with a private investigator, who drones on about his methodology.
After solid story development and a tense buildup, the conclusion of The Fixer is anticlimactic. Still, Cameron is a good enough writer to make the journey enjoyable. His novel will appeal to readers of mafia dramas and crime thrillers.
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