Killer, Come Hither
Nan Talese/Doubleday, April 2015
The protagonist of Louis Begley’s newest novel is Jack Dana, a former Marine Corps Infantry officer who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being badly wounded and returning home. He is now, seven years later, a bestselling writer, with two books behind him and a third in its early stages. He is a self-described warrior, as were his father and grandfather before him. Having attended Oxford and Yale and invited to join the Society of Fellows at Harvard, there also following in his forebears’ footsteps. The latter was a graduate of Harvard College and had been awarded the Navy Cross and Silver Star; his grandfather the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.
Now his only remaining relative is his father’s brother, Harry [now Jack’s surrogate father], a prominent New York attorney, who himself had graduated with honors from Harvard College and Harvard Law and was a leading partner at a prominent New York law firm. Shockingly, en route home after a long over-due vacation in Brazil, Jack discovers that his beloved uncle is dead, having been found hanging in his Sag Harbor home in the exclusive east end of Long Island.
Jack becomes convinced that his uncle had not committed suicide, especially after he is told that Harry’s secretary was also dead, after an apparent accident that had put her in the path of an oncoming subway train, one day after Harry’s body was discovered. He believes that both deaths had to be connected to the law firm and its largest client, a Texas oilman and right-wing multi-billionaire and activist whose political beliefs had him “somewhere to the right of the John Birch Society and Attila the Hun.” Aided by Scott Prentice, his closest friend since their days at school, and Kerry Black, recently made partner at the firm and Jack’s lover, he pursues his own investigation. Soon, faced with the near impossibility of finding the man who he believes caused his uncle’s death, the meaning of the title becomes clear: Jack decides he must make the man come to him.
It was a bit disconcerting to me that, as the novel is written in the first person, nowhere in the book do quotation marks appear, and it was initially off-putting, to have to realize in the middle of a paragraph that what appears on the page is not exposition, but a conversation between two people. But I hasten to add that when the plot, and the suspense, kicks up a notch or three, about mid-way through the novel, I didn’t even notice that, I was so busy turning pages. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, April 2015.