three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
35-July-Aug-2008
user_rating: 
0

A-The FinderIn Manhattan Nocturne (1996) and The Havana Room ( 3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2004), Colin Harrison explored the dark underbelly of urban life. Here, in another novel set in New York, he explores the rotten world of global capitalism.

The Story: Two Mexican girls die when strongmen pipe in sewage through their car’s sunroof. Their boss, Jin Li, escapes unharmed—but she knows the killers were really after her. Instead of managing a cleaning and document-shredding company, Jin Li steals information from New York corporations and passes it to her financier brother in Shanghai, who then uses it to trade stocks. Discovered by powerful New Yorkers, she goes on the run. Her former lover, Ray Grant, must find her quickly—or else answer to those who stand to lose a fortune. In The Finder, greed and money—not to mention hedge fund managers, Mafia thugs, illegal immigrants, and unethical Chinese businessmen—make the world go round.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 336 pages. $25. ISBN: 0374299498

Entertainment Weekly 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Start reading this book and prepare to cancel all other plans for the next seven hours or so." Jennifer Reese

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Harrison combines a Balzacian eye for social detail and a poet’s sense of mood with a sleazily sensationalistic plot. … In doing so he succeeds in giving us a chilling, high-speed roller coaster of a ride that doubles as a sardonic sightseeing tour of the seamier side of New York City." Michiko Kakutani

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Ripped from today’s headlines (or more likely, tomorrow’s), The Finder is a spellbinding read. … Intimate relationships underpin the picture Harrison draws of a world made porous by money and greed, where prejudice drives ambition and real estate balloons to absurd heights." Carlo Wolff

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"As a study of a decadent, rapidly declining New York, The Finder somewhat recalls Tom Wolfe’s 1987 bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities, but this is a far darker story and, to my mind, a far more interesting one." Patrick Anderson

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The underappreciated Harrison (The Havana Room, Afterburn) writes like Rambo on meth and throws in enough black humor to prove he’s more brains than brawn. This latest exercise in noirish nastiness, however, delivers a bit less frisson than his best books." Jocelyn McClurg

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"Sometimes the narrative has small essays stitched into it, at the expense of forward motion. … One missing element in the novel is a true hero, a person the reader can root for or identify with, and whose character is altered by events." Pete Hamill

Cleveland Plain Dealer 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The tropes are in place, familiar as a guilty habit, the cheesy language, the cynicism, the tough-guy exchanges… The Finder is also well-made, yet its scenes of savage beatings and sadist toying with rape approach the line." Karen R. Long

Critical Summary

Reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s and Raymond Chandler’s novels, The Finder received mostly rave reviews. Although somewhat of a basic thriller, it contains excellent portraits of greedy, corrupt men and women and of a New York rotten to the core. "In [Harrison’s] New York," notes the Washington Post, "the evil that men do is indivisible." Critics praised Harrison’s sharp eye for nuance—from his mostly unsavory cast of characters to his explanation of the global financial markets to his descriptions of New York’s city streets. Despite its spellbinding pace, a few reviewers thought some of the action too incredulous and other parts a little too predictable. Some suspension of disbelief is required, but for many critics, Harrison’s novel felt all too real in our global economy.