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THE FIXER by Joseph Finder: Book Review

When Rick Hoffman returns to his family home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it’s not by choice.  Unemployed except for freelance writing for a so-called journalism website, newly separated from his fiancée, nearly broke, his only option is to move into his childhood home.  The house has been uninhabited for nearly twenty years because of his father’s stroke and subsequent move to a nursing facility.  But, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers, so Rick consoles himself with the thought that things will shortly turn around for him and he’ll be able to afford a place of his own.

It appears that Jeff Hollenbeck, a neighbor and childhood friend of Rick’s, has been keeping an eye on the property so that high school kids don’t destroy it during the drinking parties they’ve been holding in it for years.  Jeff is now a building contractor, and he and Rick agree to make some major repairs to the house before putting it on the market.  Given the property market in Cambridge, home to Harvard University and other colleges, Jeff assures Rick that “…you could get two mil easy.  More, even.”

The two men take a quick tour of the decaying house.  Hearing what sounds like squirrels behind a bedroom closet, Jeff crowbars a hole into the wood and Rick crawls into the space.  Even in the dim light, Rick can see boxes piled high under the cover of a black plastic tarp.  Rick reaches into one of the boxes and comes out with a packet with a band around it.  It’s $10,000 in cash.

Trying to act casual and unsure what Jeff has seen, Rick backs out of the closet, asks Jeff to draw up a plan for the renovation, and hustles him out of the house.  Then Rick goes back into the crawl space and looks in all the boxes.  There are three hundred and ninety eight packets of bills in all, totaling nearly three and a half million dollars.

Where on earth, Rick wonders, could that money come from?  His father was an attorney with a small practice; he certainly didn’t make the kind of money that Rick has found.  Desperate to discover the source of the cash, he goes to see his father in the nursing home, although Leonard Hoffman hasn’t been able to speak in nearly twenty years and it’s unknown whether he is able to understand what is said to him.  But Rick has to try.

As Rick will soon discover, sometimes we find out things we wish we hadn’t.  But once the money is found, there’s really no going back.  And with each step he takes, the journey becomes more dangerous.

The Fixer is a terrific thriller, as the reader watches Rick develop from a rather self-centered man into a caring, compassionate one.  The questioning force that propelled him in his journalistic career is still driving him, in this case to figure out the source of the hidden money and his father’s relation to it.  Joseph Finder has written a book that you won’t want to put down.

You can read more about Joseph Finder at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.