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.
In a break from her popular Lydia Chin-Bill Smith mystery series (Winter and Night), Rozan grapples with the aftermath of 9/11 as it affects a group of longtime friends. Fire Capt. Jimmy McCaffery had died a hero, evacuating people from the World Trade Center. But his postmortem reputation is tarnished when reporter Harry Randall accuses him in a newspaper article of using a mob connection to funnel money to the wife and child of his best friend, Markie Keegan, after Markie's death in prison. Shortly after the article appears, Randall jumps off a bridge, motivating his lover and fellow reporter Laura Stone to prove that it was not suicide but murder. A well-told suspenseful tale with fully developed characters, Rozan's first standalone is also a haunting examination of the nature of friendship, truth, and heroism. Highly recommended for all general fiction collections. [See interview with Rozan, LJ 4/1/04, p. 39; see Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/04.] Michelle Foyt, Russell Lib., Middletown, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
After eight mysteries mining the complicated relationship between private eyes Lydia Chin and Bill Smith (the Edgar-winning Winter and Night, 2002, etc.), Rozan makes her crossover bid with an ambitious study of a 9/11 hero's clay feet. First in, last out was the rule for firefighting Capt. James McCaffery, who true to his own longstanding form perished on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center while struggling to help still more of the wounded to safety. But was Jimmy McCaffery really a hero in his private life? Burned-out New York Tribune reporter Harry Randall says he wasn't in a series of articles terminated by his plunge from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Everybody accepts the obvious explanation of suicide except Laura Stone, Harry's protegee and lover, who vows to continue his investigation of why the McCaffery Memorial Fund, headed by Jimmy's old friend Marian Gallagher, refused a $50,000 contribution from reputed mobster Eddie Spano, another figure from Jimmy's childhood. After a masterfully rapid exposition, Laura's inquiries, bolstered by dozens of moving flashbacks, move crabwise from the Trade Center bombing to focus on the 1979 shooting of Jimmy's friend Jack Molloy by still another friend, Mark Keegan, who was killed in prison a few months after confessing, leaving behind a son who'd grow up to be a firefighter wounded on 9/11. What did the papers Harry claimed Jimmy had left behind reveal about that fatal episode, and what does the troubled past of Jimmy's childhood circle have to do with the historic moment that revealed Jimmy as both heroic and corrupt?The connections, in fact, are unsurprising and anticlimactic, especially after the long buildup. But Rozan pulls off agroup portrait that's both grandly scaled and painfully intimate. It's a pleasure to see all the stuff she's been hoarding over those ten years with her p.i. duo.
"Many years from now when your children ask what New York City was like just after 9/11, this will be the book you give them in response. It's an exquisite novel full of heart, soul, passion and intelligence, and it's the one this great New York author was born to write." —Lee Child
"The best contemporary novels create context for shared experiences that somehow remain unfathomable. Full of surprises from page one, Absent Friends is one of those—S.J. Rozan has written an ambitious, solemn, and ultimately hopeful book that shouldn't be missed." —Stephen White
"S.J. Rozan is, hands-down, one of my favorite crime writers working today. To read her is to experience the kind of pure pleasure that only a master can deliver."—Dennis Lehane
"Rozan has you looking over your shoulder into the dark."—Michael Connelly
"S.J. Rozan has written the most consistently compelling series of traditional detective novels published in this decade. Now is the time to discover what Rozan's loyal readership has known all along." —George Pelecanos
"Okay, listen up: This woman can write!"—Robert Crais
"A riveting offering reminiscent of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River ... unforgettable."—Booklist, starred review
"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."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Absent Friends is a meditation on love, loss and enduring friendships as filtered through the shattering aftermath of 9/11. ... Without question one of the year's standout novels."—Baltimore Sun
"Absent Friends is a look at the nature of heroes, friendship, truth and self-knowledge..... The final chapter is richly heartbreaking and awe-inspiring."—Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
"Rozan, who has won all the crime-genre awards for her Bill Smith/Lydia Chin detective titles, breaks away from that series with a novel that could stand proudly beside those of the masters, Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos."—New York Daily News
"The story revolves around four boys and three girls— their childhoods, myriad backgrounds and families—and the men and women they become.... Rozan delivers a rich, sophisticated view of New Yorkers whose lives, like so many others, were so vastly changed on that September morning."—Newport News Daily Press
"Add S.J. Rozan to the list of artists and writers addressing the legacy of 9/11. Her ambitious Absent Friends uses that event as the backdrop for a heartbreaking story about secrets, loyalty and our primal need for heroes."—Seattle Times