Friday, May 02, 2008


'Love to flit about the Manhattan candle!'

Porter Wren is a Manhattan tabloid columnist who writes about murder, tragedy, scandal, and chaos. He sells the highs and lows of a thrilling New York to its people, and above all sells newspapers. He is a dedicated family man with two lovely children and Lisa his wife is both attractive and a talented hand surgeon. He has it all and then at a reception he meets the beautiful Caroline Crowley, and his life is thrown into turmoil.
Caroline, a very disturbed young woman, asks him to investigate the unsolved murder of her husband successful filmmaker Simon Crowley, a weird guy with a penchant for making strange videotapes.
Porter begins an affair with Caroline and then his boss Sebastian Hobbs, the enormously fat billionaire newspaper owner, threatens him with dismissal and worse if he does not obtain a videotape which he says Caroline is repeatedly sending him.

' Talent is cheap Mr Wren, yours included…… I can
throw a bone in the street and get a newspaper staff.’

‘Now then, you are my employee and you are fucking Caroline Crowley, and that means you are in her life.’

Porter goes through the Simon Crowley videotape collection, stored in a deposit box in the branch of a Malaysian bank, and finds one that shows the murder of a New York cop. He tries to turn that in to the police and then his problems really start as the videotapes are confused and Porter’s family and marriage are threatened.

‘When does disaster become inevitable? Only in retrospect, of course is the moment apparent.’

Colin Harrison has given us a picture of New York with all the excitement, glitz and glamour of a vibrant but menacing city. This book is a combination of Fatal Attraction with a touch of Wall Street and an intriguing mystery thrown in for good measure.
Manhattan Nocturne thrives on the anecdotes and the larger than life character pictures drawn with tremendous verve by an author who is master of his subject.
Alongside Hobbs, a William Randolph Hearst clone, the beautiful amoral Caroline and the dead Simon Crowley the narrator Porter Wren seems almost bland drawn along into danger by more powerful personalities. Perhaps that is the nature of the reporter.

Just when you think the story is running out of steam Harrison produces a new little twist to keep you interested until the climax. You can guess the denouement but you have that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind about how it will eventually all turn out.

I do have reservations about some of the very explicit descriptions of sex acts when those details don’t seem to be that relevant to the plot, or character development.
But this was a very gripping read with some memorable characters and a well thought out plot which is entirely believable knowing the foibles of human nature.

This book was supplied by Picador USA


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