“Tanenbaum is one lawyer who can write with the best of them.”—Joseph Wambaugh, New York Times bestselling author of Hollywood Hills
“Tanenbaum is one hell of a writer.”—New York Post
“He has become a master of this genre, and Act of Revenge may be his most exciting and best effort to date.”—Vincent Bugliosi, New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter
A classic, pulse-pounding thriller from the legendary Robert K. Tanenbaum, Act of Revenge plunges the popular author’s long-running series protagonists, New York City Chief Assistant District Attorney Butch Karp and family, into the lethal heart of a bloody turf war between the Mafia and ruthless Chinese gangsters. An elite member of America’s contemporary crime fiction and thriller royalty—a master whose work stands tall among the novels of John Sanford, Lee Child, Robert Crais, and Brad Meltzer—Tanenbaum entertains magnificently, displaying true storytelling muscle with Act of Revenge.
About the Author
Robert K. Tanenbaum is one of the country's most successful trial lawyers, having never lost a felony case. He ran the Homicide Bureau and was Bureau Chief of the Criminal Courts for the New York District Attorney's Office and Deputy Chief Counsel to the Congressional Committee investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He has taught Advanced Criminal Procedure at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the author of twenty-two Butch Karp novels and two true-crime books.
Read an Excerpt
In and out, was his thought as he stood in the dusty storeroom of the Asia Mall. The targets would be there, and I'll be here, and the Vietnamese guy would come in through the rear entrance, off of Howard Street, down that little hallway, and do it. Then the Vietnamese guy would leave the way he came in, and I'll walk out through the store. The man strolled back and forth, pacing off the distances, humming softly. He was a slight Chinese man in a cheap blue suit, and a white nylon short-sleeved shirt buttoned to the top. On his feet he wore twelve-dollar Kinney loafers over white cotton socks. Nobody would have looked twice at him on any street in Chinatown, which was one of the things he now counted on. Walking out through the mall, through the throngs of Asian people buying cheap clothes, household items, and fabrics, and out into Canal Street. No one would ever have seen him with the men from Hong Kong.
A rattle announced a stock clerk coming in from the store with a hand truck. The man in the blue suit stayed where he was, and the stock clerk looked right through him, hoisted a carton of woks onto his truck, and departed. The stock clerk had seen the man any number of times, on the street or in the mall talking to the boss, and he had also never seen him before in his life, depending on who was asking.
After the stock clerk left, the man clapped his hands hard, three times, as they do before a shrine to frighten the demons who tend to lurk by shrines, and listened carefully after each clap. This section of the stockroom was composed largely of ceiling-high shelves made of steel pipes, rough planks, and chicken wire, stuffed plumpwith pillows and beanbag chairs, making effective baffles for loud, sharp sounds. It was likely that no one in the mall would hear anything out of the ordinary. Smiling a vague and modest smile, the man in the blue suit came out of the storeroom. He asked the girl at the front counter for a pack of Salems, and she gave it to him. She did not ask him for any money, nor did he offer any. She was another of the very many people who did not recall ever seeing this man while doing him various favors. He walked out onto Canal Street, crowded with shoppers on this sunny Friday in early June, crowded by American standards, near empty by the standards the man had grown up with in China. This afternoon, in the back room of the Asia Mall, he would complete a plan five years in the making, a tower of mahjong tiles that required the delicate placing of a last exquisitely balanced piece to hold it together. With that last ivory click, his life would change.
The man walked down Canal toward Lafayette, smoking, his mind calm. He knew he was good at this, that his plan was sound and would bring forth the results he desired. Of course, the men from Hong Kong might not come at all, but that could not be helped. Everything else had been considered and accounted for, and it all would have worked exactly as planned, except for the little girl. And who could have imagined such a girl?
The girl, at about that moment, was up at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons getting her head examined. Dr. Morris Shadkin, a small, youngish, plump man with a friendly pop-eyed look and unfashionable black sideburns, was doing the examining. The girl said, in an exaggerated nervous voice, "Okay, doc, don't beat around the bush. Am I . . . am I . . . going to make it?"
Shadkin looked up from the sonogram strips he was studying and adopted a grave mien. "I'm afraid not, Lucy," he intoned in a good replication of the voice used by the elderly scientists in fifties monster movies. "I'm afraid your brain will have to be removed for further study. I'm sorry."
"Oh, no problem, doc," said the girl. "Could I say good-bye to my dollies first?"
He laughed. "Yes, but be quick about it! This is big science. What do you think of this?" He handed her a couple of sonogram strips stapled together. "Check out 102 and 102b."
The girl looked at the patterns. "They look the same," she said.
"Yeah. Those are phoneme prints corrected for pitch and timbre. One of them is a native Cantonese speaker, and the other is you."
"So I speak perfect Cantonese. We knew that already."
"Hey, who's the doctor here? Now look at these, wise guy."
"What's this, the Russian?"
"Yeah, which you don't speak at all. Look at the sequence down the page." He pointed with a pencil. "This is the tape, this is you. See: rough at first, but you got a learning curve like a rocket, kid. Down there on the bottom it's nearly a perfect match."
"Oh, yes, I'm this big prodigy," said Lucy in affected boredom, "but will it bring me true happiness?"
Shadkin twiddled an imaginary cigar and bounced his eyebrows Groucho-like.
"Stick with me, kid, you'll be wearing diamonds. Want to see the EEG results?"
"From the thing with the green shower cap and the wires?"
"Yo, that." He tapped with the pencil at various places on a life-size plaster model of a human brain. "You seem to have an unusually active Wernicke's area. That's the chunk of brain we think is responsible for comprehension of language. Same with Heschl's gyri, which is right here. Now, we're no longer strict localizers, that is, we no longer think that there's a little smidgen of brain meat with 'car' on it and another with 'sassafras,' but it's pretty clear there are, even at this gross level, some differences between your EEG output and those of ordinary mortals. It's hard to explain right now. It's not a simple bilingualism. But as I understand it, you've always been bilingual in Cantonese."
"As far back as I can remember."
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Tanenbaum is one lawyer who can write with the best of them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a thriller written by a lawyer. Wait! Come back! It's not boring like most lawyerly fiction is!Butch and Marlene, Tanenbaum's married sleuths, are back again and they're in fine fettle. I liked them when I first encountered them in No Lesser Plea quite a long time ago. They're a little Nick-and-Nora-y, but they strike out into new territory because she's got one helluva scary job: She's a protection specialist for abused women in jeopardy.Wait! Come back! It's not like a Lifetime movie, I promise!Butch and Marlene are facing off against the two scariest and cruelest entities on Planet Earth in this book. No, not Simon Cowell and Nina Garcia! The Mafia and the Chinese tongs. They poke their collective nose into what seems like a box-stock hit on a capo after their 12-year-old witnesses part of the war that led to the hit. Now she's a target, and so now it's Close to Home.It's a taut, well-made thriller, and the stakes could NOT be higher. No, you don't need to read the books in order...this one would make a great place to start, for example. Tanenbaum made the leap from book-at-a-time good to series good a while ago. This 11-year-old outing is no exception.
Too convoluted and totally incomprehensible! The "plot" is like watching "The Big Sleep" and trying to figure out who's on first - forget about it!
Originally published in 1999...when I read it the first time.