by Bruce TierneyNovember, 2004
Missing in Manhattan
Kudos to Jim Fusilli for his fourth novel featuring Big Apple writer-turned-detective Terry Orr, Hard, Hard City. In the first of the series, Closing Time, Orr struggled with the death of his wife and toddler son, who fell or were pushed in front of a high-speed subway train. Left with a comfortable monetary legacy and a teenage daughter, Orr has become a freelance private investigator, taking on occasional cases that pique his interest. In Hard, Hard City, Orr investigates the disappearance of a young design student, a sensitive lad with an overbearing and abusive father. Said father is a wealthy white-collar crook; he will tolerate no investigation that might expose any of his underhanded dealings. He gets this message across in an unmistakable manner: he runs Orr's tiny rental car (with Orr in it) off the side of an embankment, leaving him for dead. Killing the protagonist is never good for a popular series, though. Orr manages to pry himself from the wreckage with a) multiple contusions and lacerations, and b) a steely resolve to find the boy and exact justice (revenge?) upon the father. Orr is an introspective and complex character, and the supporting cast is well-drawn and diverse. The descriptions of post-9/11 Manhattan are spot-on, and the plotting is intense and briskly paced. You'll want to read Fusilli's earlier books as well, both for continuity's sake, and because they are all brilliantly crafted.