Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of Graveland by Alan Glynn (Faber, 2013)

Ellen Dorsey used to be a frontline journalist who now writes longer, investigative pieces for a monthly current affairs magazine.  When an investment banker is shot dead in Central Park, given her nearness and curiosity she heads to the scene.  The murder re-ignites her old news reporter instincts -- she’s sure this is more than a random killing and she wants to uncover and break the story.  Frank Bishop used to be an architect before the financial crash, now he’s a store manager in an ailing mall.  To add to his woes he’s becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of his daughter, Lizzie, a university student who won’t answer and return his calls.  Craig Howley is second in charge of a private equity group, Oberon Capital, and is hoping to take control once aging, patriarch, James Vaughan cedes his position due to ill-health.  Vaughan, however, has other ideas and is determined to cling on to power, or at least retain being the puppet-master.  Ellen, Frank and Craig’s lives are about to intersect, with fatal consequences.

Graveland is the third book in a loose trilogy that all feature the well connected, aging and secretive, James Vaughan and the tentacles of Oberon Capital Group, and a handful of other overlapping characters.  As with Winterland and Bloodland, Glynn has written a well plotted, nuanced and layered political/financial thriller -- this time weaving together radical politics and Wall Street greed.  And although there are several intersecting plotlines and subplots, Glynn guides the reader effortlessly through them.  The telling feels polished, the prose and narrative thoughtfully crafted, and the style is all tell and no-show.  The characterisation is nicely realised, with each of the principal characters vivid, complex and three-dimensional.  Overall, a fitting end to the trilogy, that also closes off Glynn’s first book, The Dark Fields -- an enjoyable, cerebral, contemporary thriller.

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