Review

Closing Time

by Jim Fusilli



New York City has in recent weeks become the focus of worldwide
scrutiny the likes of which it has not previously experienced. The
focus, however, has been the New York City everyone thinks of when
the words "New York City" are seen or heard. Jim Fusilli, a music
critic for The Wall Street Journal, compares the known city
with its rough underside and contrasts these two symbiotic levels
of civilization in his first novel, CLOSING TIME.

Fusilli does this through the eyes of Terry Orr, an author who no
longer writes, except for an occasional missive to his deceased
wife Marina. Orr's days and nights are haunted by his wife and
their infant son, both of whom were senselessly murdered by a
madman who seems to have disappeared. Orr's only connection with
his past life is his 12-year-old daughter Bella; although
independently wealthy, the trauma done to those in his family who
have gone ahead threatens to engulf him and those left behind. As
he attempts to find the murderer of his wife and infant son and to
right wrongs done to other friends, he finds himself slowly and
unwittingly neglecting Bella. Fusilli nicely balances this
dichotomy, and that is a good thing.

Orr becomes involved in two cases that he works simultaneously in
CLOSING TIME. The first involves the murder of a cab driver; Orr
happens upon the driver's body and is compelled to discover who did
the deed and why, when the police, overworked and underpaid, are
unable to give the matter priority. The second involves the bombing
of an art gallery owned by a friend of Orr's who is severely
injured in the blast. The second mystery is fairly mundane and
almost too easily solved, given the motives of everyone involved.
The first mystery, however...ah, that is the one for which the book
was written. Orr's investigation of the apparently senseless murder
takes him to areas of New York that you won't find listed in The
New York Times Guide to New York City
--- and it is in these
scenes, where Orr places himself in dangers unknown and deadly,
that Fusilli really shines. One gets the sense that Fusilli spent
hours climbing through abandoned buildings and torn fence wire to
get that descriptive sense of place upon which so many novels stand
or fall. Here, CLOSING TIME, and Fusilli, stand tall.

CLOSING TIME leaves plenty of room for character development in
future novels involving Orr, Bella, and the cast of secondary
characters introduced therein. While this novel could have
benefited from a bit more development from the get go, the haunting
descriptions of New York City's underbelly make that deficiency a
sacrifice worth experiencing. Orr has descriptive powers to burn;
if he combines that talent with more character development, his
next novel will be a classic.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Closing Time
by Jim Fusilli

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399147934
  • ISBN-13: 9780399147937