Jonah Gray is the youngest member of a four member team at Platinum Commercial Building and Land (PCBL). Located at the Chrysler Center in New York City, the company handles commercial real estate in the city. They make a lot of money and do whatever it takes to get business done. Jonah Gray continues the family tradition in real estate and is very good at it. Much like the real life Donald Trump, the fictional Jonah Gray wants everyone to know it including the reader. His ego knows no bounds and absolutely anything can be done.
Because he has the reputation of being the man to go to and his contacts are everywhere, it isn't surprising that Andreu Zhamovsky contacts him one morning though it has been a couple of years since they last spoke. Business keeps both men busy with Andreu owning the controlling interest in Prevkos, one of the world's most important natural gas corporations and a key player on the Russian stock exchange. He and his family are old friends dating back to the seventies and the relationship between their fathers. Andreu is family as far as Jonah is concerned but this day he wants to talk business.
Jonah agrees to meet that evening and does where Andreu announces that he has a proposal for Jonah. A massive deal that if done within the three week time table required by Andreu will create a million dollar plus payoff for each member of Jonah's team and will be a huge real estate coup as the market rebounds after the events of September 11, 2001. Naturally, he accepts.
While he and the other members of his team work on this new project, Jonah becomes slowly involved in two secondary storylines where his partying lifestyle is a huge factor. In both cases, beauty hides sinister secrets that could easily get him killed. The question quickly becomes whether or not he can solve those issues and stay alive so that he can make the deal, which has its own issues, happen.
This second novel written by Adam Gittlin, a commercial real estate executive in New York City is clearly a case of the classic mantra "write what you know" in large part. It starts amazingly slow for a novel branded as a thriller. The first one hundred pages or so not only sets up the main storyline, they also serve to allow Jonah Gray to information dump about his lifestyle driven by excess in every area as well as the detailed ins and outs of the commercial real estate market. Full of the ominous "if only had I known" cliché worked in various ways, the book makes full use of the author's background and grinds along at a snail's pace as the situation regarding the main storyline is developed in great detail.
Those first one hundred pages or so also creates a main character that becomes despised. A flawed human being who could easily say the famous movie line, "Greed is good" before telling you in great name dropping detail just how good regarding clothing, dinner, and the woman he took to bed last night. Life is amazingly good for Jonah and it is only as his life begins to unravel we learn that there is another side to him. Like everything in the book, appearances are deceiving and at his core, thanks to his baptism by fire, he is a far different person than the materialistic person at the beginning of the 456 page novel.
What starts at a snails pace is more than made up for in the last one hundred pages as the reader is rocketed through a maze of pathways to a very satisfying conclusion. While this novel does suffer from information dumping and overwriting at spots throughout the novel, the last fourth of the book as things come together works with one obvious plot twist and a host of others that weren't obvious. The result is a pretty good novel that becomes intense and well worth the time in the second half of the book.
Just try to arrange things so that you can read the last one hundred pages in one sitting as you aren't going to want to quit once you get there.
Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2008