The secrets of a group of childhood friends unravel in this haunting thriller by Edgar Award winner S. J. Rozan. Set in New York in the unforgettable aftermath of September 11, Absent Friends brilliantly captures a time and place unlike any other, as it winds through the wounded streets of New York and Staten Island...and into a maze of old crimes, damaged lives, and heartbreaking revelations. The result is not only an electrifying mystery and a riveting piece of storytelling but an elegiac novel that powerfully explores a world changed forever on a clear September morning.
New York City Fire Capt. James McCaffery is a hero to everyone who knew him, and many who didn't, even before his death at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that awful day, "New York needs heroes," as one character puts it. So it's particularly upsetting to the people McCaffery grew up with on Staten Island when a newspaper reporter suggests he may have been linked to organized crime and a shooting that happened exactly 22 years earlier. On September 11, 1979, Mark Keegan, a childhood friend of McCaffery's and most of the other characters in this rich, beautifully written book, killed a local mob boss's stepson allegedly in self-defense and later died in prison. Ever since, someone has been financially supporting Keegan's wife and young son, Kevin. The benefactor turns out to be McCaffery, but why And where did the money come from Rozan is a wonderful and insightful writer, and she creates an intricate, intimate portrait of a group of 40-something New Yorkers coping with a city in ruins. But the small mystery of Mark Keegan and Jimmy McCaffery cannot help paling in comparison to the larger evil perpetrated on 9/11, and the scope of the author's canvas multiple perspectives and far too many flashbacks makes the story more convoluted than it deserves to be. Nonetheless, the book powerfully articulates the mix of heartbreak, anger, helplessness and resolve of New Yorkers after 9/11. Agent, Steve Axelrod. (Oct. 5) Forecast: The winner of Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Shamus awards, Rozan is the author of Winter and Night (2002) and other titles in her Bill Smith/Lydia Chin mystery series. With blurbs from Dennis Lehane and Lee Child, this strong stand-alone should help break her out as a mainstream crime writer. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 28, 2004
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Excerpt from Absent Friends by S. J. Rozan
BOYS' OWN BOOK: Chapter 1
Secrets No One Knew
July 4, 1976
Four boys, three girls, high and soaring, skin sizzling, tingling under the dizzying stars. Everything open and opening: the ragtop to the sky, the sky endlessly to the huge summer night. This night to their limitless lives.
Everything opening: In the black sky tight bright bursts eclipse the luminous moon, explode as fiery streaks, fountains of scarlet, rockets of silver, purple blooms and sprays of green. On the radio rising swells of tinny music; from the car shouts and applause.
Everything opening: the girls to the boys, not for the first time, but with a new, laughing heat. The boys to each other, grunts and shrugs and grins their fiercely sworn oaths, beer cans their glittering tokens of fealty.
Everything, everything opening: surprisingly, newly, the boys to the girls.