Richie Forman is freshly out of prison. By night, he makes a living impersonating Frank Sinatra in San Francisco’s lounges and corporate parties. But then his ex-best friend—the man who stole his fiancée while he was in prison—is found hacked to death in his garage, and Richie is the prime suspect. In a murder mystery with the twists and turns of a microchip, Carnoy weaves his characters like a master. He has written an authentic, unputdownable thriller that is sure to chill and delight.
Carnoy follows his 2010 debut, Knife Music, with a thriller set in California’s Silicon Valley that has it all: a convoluted but convincing plot, a likable protagonist facing terrible odds, and a meaty supporting cast working for and against him. While Richie Foreman served seven years in prison for vehicular manslaughter, the friend he claims was actually behind the wheel, Mark McGregor, not only achieved success as “a hotshot Internet entrepreneur” but also married Richie’s former fiancée, Beth Hill. When Beth finds Mark’s bloody body on the floor of the garage of their pricey Menlo Park home, she and Richie become natural suspects in Mark’s murder. Evidence suggests that Richie was at least involved in the killing. While troubled lawyer Carolyn Dupuy represents Beth, and charismatic Marty Lowenstein (aka “the DNA Dude”) defends Richie, local legend Det. Sgt. Hank Madden seeks definitive proof of Richie’s guilt. This exceptionally satisfying murder puzzle should whet readers’ appetites for more.
--Publishers Weekly, A Starred Review
Carnoy (Knife Music, 2010) heads to high-tech Silicon Valley for his sophomore thriller, but the story is as old-fashioned as betrayal, greed and murder.
Colorful characters abound in Carnoy’s legal caper. Richie Forman was big in dot-com marketing before ending up in prison. There was a bachelor party for Richie, after which he and his best friend, Mark McGregor, headed out in Richie’s classic Cadillac. What followed was a missed red light and a young woman dead. Richie’s blood alcohol was .12, but he was certain he wasn’t driving. Convicted anyway, he spent years in the pen. While Richie was doing hard time, his financee, Beth Hill, gave in to the wiles of the best friend, Mark, and married him. Now Richie’s out, making a living as a Sinatra impersonator and volunteering at the Exoneration Foundation run by the DNA Dude, attorney Marty Lowenstein. Mark, still in the dot-com business but on apparent shaky financial ground, has been murdered. The police have suspects, including Beth, but the police like Richie the most. Enter Hank Madden, a detective involved in the accident investigation, and Beth’s attorney, Carolyn Dupuy, the prosecutor who put Richie in the clink and who is now coping with an off-and-on doctor boyfriend and a ticking biological clock. Then there’s the muckraker guy, Tom Bender, a Drudge-digital-clone with a must-read website covering the dot-com business world. Carnoy knows the territory perfectly, and with judicious use of clever phrases that never distract from the crime caper, he’s spot on with his characterizations, all of which seem both archetypal and yet sparkling with individual personalities and interesting back stories. Add an intriguing semi-red herring or two, and the climax comes with a satisfying twist.
A first-rate crime caper.
David Carnoy is an executive editor at CNET and is interviewed regularly on television as a tech expert, appearing on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, and other media outlets. His acclaimed thrillers The Big Exit and Knife Music are available from Overlook Press. He lives in New York City with his wife and children.