Co-author of five bestsellers with James Patterson, Andrew Gross’s RECKLESS is his fourth solo novel and the third book featuring former Connecticut cop and now private investigator Ty Hauck. Hauck returns for another thrilling adventure after the harrowing events in DON’T LOOK TWICE. Gross writes seemingly formulaic situations, in which Hauck investigates what appears to be only coincidental murders that he later discovers are related to him.
The initially thin plot tells of villainous Mideast hooligans and never-heard-of financier Dieter (“Dani”) Thibault, whom Hauck discovers has “a shadowy past that surely covered up something that the man had gone to great lengths to conceal.” He and Treasury Department agent Naomi Blum are going rogue when they track Thibault to Serbia. Jet-setting to London, Hauck unwittingly street surfs on Piccadilly --- without a beneficial surfboard. Holding on to an SUV’s luggage rack, “His feet dangled against the pavement as he was dragged along.”
Unfortunately, readers have no opportunity to learn about the psychological motivation of characters other than that of Hauck and Blum. “Something he hadn't felt in months” keeps readers wondering if a romantic interest will develop. “As a rule, Hauck trusted government agents about as much as car salesmen.” And his relationship with Annie Fletcher is tested when she questions Hauck’s devotion to the woman with him in a photograph secreted in his bedroom.
There’s a bit of a Bernie Madoff thing going on when Hauck and Blum discover that Wall Street rogue trader Marc Glassman has “been shifting funds between accounts, all over the globe.” Eleven billion dollars have gone missing now, in this topical tale of “too big to fail” Wall Street firms, with a seismic event that makes Madoff’s Ponzi pyramid look like an anthill. “First it was the subprime debacle. Then it was Fannie and Freddie teetering, AIG coughing up blood.”
Gross throws in a cherry-hued herring by orchestrating coincidental burglaries in the affluent neighborhoods of Greenwich, Connecticut. Hauck takes a personal interest when three members of the Glassman family are brutally murdered in what appears to be one of those burglaries gone bad. Then the seemingly unrelated “suicide” of Wall Street mortgage bond trader James Donovan is linked to Hauck with an improbable bit of circumstantial evidence. Resourceful Hauck makes good use of ice skates after curious events make him aware that he’s been put in harm’s way. Diabolical forces try to get to Hauck by hurting those close to him.
The crime-fighting duo of Hauck and Blum topples upper-echelon members of a truly vile organization in this frighteningly realistic thriller. All the president’s men fall from Humpty Dumpty’s wall, as they piece together fragmented facts that lead to a “politically charged” conclusion about investments made with abandon that appropriately defines the word “reckless.”
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy (DeanMurphy@Verizon.net) on April 27, 2011