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Harrison's status as the noir poet of New York crime fiction (Afterburn; Manhattan Nocturne) will surely be enhanced by his latest thriller-featuring, among other pleasures, the graphic description of several new and unusual ways to die. What goes on in the by-invitation-only Havana Room of a midtown steakhouse is certainly bizarre-but no odder than what happens in a Long Island potato field when a Chilean wine maker decides to expand his empire. Caught in the middle are two most unlikely heroes: Bill Wyeth, a real estate lawyer whose career and marriage are destroyed by a terrible accident involving a child, and Jay Rainey, a hulking, strangely sympathetic con artist. Linking these two is a touching and complicated woman, Allison Sparks, who manages the steakhouse but longs for more. "She seemed full of humor and fury and sexual need. She arranged people, fixed problems, came to decisions." Although Wyeth and Rainey drive the action, it's Sparks who sets the moral tone of the book. Meanwhile, the lush, alluring steakhouse and its public and private pleasures are the perfect metaphor for a postapocalyptic New York. "It did not matter if you polluted your lungs or liver or gut with the good stuff being served, because a man or a woman's life was itself just a short meal at the table, so to speak, and one had an obligation to live well and live now, to dine heartily by the logic of the flesh." Despite occasional digressions into arcane real estate law and Chinese cuisine, Harrison's storytelling hums and his prose shimmers all the way through this fascinating adventure.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Harrison's latest intelligent thriller does not offer quite as compelling a plot as his last one, the acclaimed Afterburn (1999); however, his businessman-turned-desperado characters are never less than riveting, bringing us an up-to-date bulletin straight from the heart of a battered New York City. Corporate lawyer Bill Wyeth is jettisoned from his pampered upper-middle-class lifestyle by a tragic accident. Arriving home unexpectedly, he gives his son's sleepy guest a glass of milk inadvertently laced with peanut sauce. The boy, severely allergic, goes into shock and dies. The boy's wealthy, grieving father engineers Bill's destruction, and he loses his job, home, and family. Desperate for some kind of structure, Bill becomes a regular at a long-established steakhouse, entering the orbit of beautiful and austere restaurant manager Allison Sparks. She gives him entree to the Havana Room, the scene of backroom deals and strange goings-on, and introduces him to Jay Rainey, a hugely charismatic and secretive businessman who draws Bill into a dangerous venture. Suddenly, both men are being stalked by hip-hop-loving thugs and a cultured but equally ruthless entrepreneur. The complex plot, however, merely seems like the framework for Harrison's ultra-modern morality tale about the costs of self-preservation and the deep pressures of being human. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
tell you what, you are simply not on the level of how to appreaciate a good novel by a far too good writer. Read morePublished on July 16 2004 by justareader
Great writer, I was intrigued from page 1. Lots of twists and turns. Complex plot, check it out.Published on July 13 2004
The Havana Room by Colin Harrison is a good example of what might be called Fiction Noir. The main character is one Bill Wyeth, formerly a big shot lawyer who has just everything... Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by Charles J. Rector
I'd give this book no stars if I could. I liked nothing about it -- all of the characters are unpleasant and poorly drawn. Read morePublished on April 26 2004
Is there a better novelist crafting well-written, utterly engaging stories about Manhattan than Colin Harrison? I doubt it. Read morePublished on April 19 2004
This book was easy to read. I read it in two days. But, I was not happy with the storyline. It was not believable. Too many things happened that would not happen in real life. Read morePublished on April 13 2004
For the first third of this book I thought I had found one of those magical times when I read slowly to savor the writing and the mood. Read morePublished on April 9 2004 by Jake. Harrison
when I picked up this book and read the first few chapters I was enchanted, the 1st few pages were so well written, they were almost perfection. Read morePublished on April 1 2004
This book, advertised as "noir" mystery/thriller has a shallow and highly improbable as well as very convoluted plot. Read morePublished on March 19 2004 by Perlroth,