Tuesday, September 08, 2009


George Young is an attorney for a firm that has only one client, a European insurance company, and his job is to investigate suspicious claims. He owes a lot to the firm's founder Wilson Corbett, who gave him his first chance, and therefore when asked by Corbett's widow, who herself has only a few months to live, to look into why her son Roger was sitting in a bar for four hours before he was killed in a accident he accepts the assignment.
In his investigations he comes across some interesting characters, including Roger's girlfriend Eliska Sedlacek, a Czech hand model, and Dr Greenfield a former dentist to the stars who lost an arm in a subway door. [About the only way to get fully paid up early retirement from the NHS dental list]
Before his death Roger Corbett was looking into his father's past history, and as George delves deeper into the case he discovers secrets from the past and Christmas ornaments that pose present dangers.

Risk was originally a fifteen part weekly serial in the New York Times magazine, and author Colin Harrison paints an evocative picture of a seedy down at heel New York.
This is a very American book, and readers who have never heard of superstar shortstop Derek Jeter, and pitchers Chien Ming Wang, or Joba Chamberlain will miss some of the atmosphere; but Harrison is writing for an audience for whom these Yankees are as well known as David Beckham is to a British readership.
From my reading of Risk and Manhattan Nocturne Harrison's protagonists are usually professionals with talented wives, Carol in Risk is a bank compliance officer, who are asked to perform tasks a little bit outside their normal range. Ordinary men placed in extraordinary situations.
Colin Harrison is obviously fascinated by hands, Eliska is a hand model and the wife in Manhattan Nocturne is a hand surgeon, while the dentist to the stars has lost his entire arm.

Risk was a pleasant short book [174 pages] by an author who knows the Big Apple very well and produces a smoothly written but slightly predictable story.

Thanks to Picador USA who provided the book


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