It's a Crime
By Jacqueline Carey
Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345459923, 288pp.
Publication Date: August 12, 2008
List Price: $24.00*
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Pat Foy leads a charmed life. She has a close-knit family, an expensive home, and a satisfying career as a landscape designer. She also reads mystery novels all the time–yet she can’t see what is happening right in front of her eyes, and is astonished when her husband, Frank, is arrested for accounting fraud at LinkAge, the huge telecommunications firm that employs him. “How could anything that boring be illegal?” she wonders. The scandal hits the press and threatens to drain the Foys’ bank account, send Frank to prison, and tear their family apart.
Frank claims that fudging the numbers is standard practice in today’s go-go business atmosphere. Everyone does it, or would if he could. Americans love recklessness, he insists. They admire scalawags. Pat does too–at least in novels. And it’s hard for Pat to imagine who has suffered from LinkAge’s bankruptcy. So she decides to search out the victims, and finds more than she bargained for. At first she thinks that all she has to do to make amends is whip out her checkbook. What she doesn’t know is that events have already begun to spin out of control, and that the future holds as many twists and turns as any of the whodunits she has read.
Jacqueline Carey’s whip-smart and irresistibly sly novel deftly portrays the dire costs of today’s corporate culture of runaway greed–and brings to life a fractured landscape filled with CEOs-turned-robber barons, privileged lives punctured by wretched excess, and personal relationships put to the ultimate test.
A mismatched trio stumble through the fallout of white-collar fraud in this madcap take on contemporary mysteries.
Pat Foy was only a teenager when she took up with hard-drinking, hard-boiled mystery novelist Lemuel Samuel. But while she might have been the writer's muse, it was her more grounded buddy Ginny Howley who actually read Samuel's books. Flip ahead a few decades and the three are in separate worlds.
Foy is stranded in a trophy house, alone with only her rebellious teen daughter Ruby, after her husband goes to prison for his part in a huge telecom fraud. Howley has become a writer, but is barely making it in Maine, thanks in part to Pat's husband's fraud. And Samuel is paying the price of years of hard living, but he has produced a son, Will, who serves as a fine foil and companion to Ruby, and his pointed criticisms also finally open Foy's eyes up to the enormity of her husband's misdeeds. A chance comment and the sleepless nights of growing awareness put Foy on the road, and soon the old friends are working together, ostensibly to right some wrongs. Carey has a great ear, and Foy and depressive Howley make for one of the great odd couples in crime fiction. Samuel is less fully realized than the two childhood friends. A former mystery columnist for Salon.com, Carey (The Crossley Baby, 2003, etc.) offers a few too many inside jokes about the crime-fiction community. The shifting viewpoints are also a bit much, drawing attention to the writing as much as the characters. But when this off-kilter story works, it's quite a ride.
Offbeat humor propels an unusual take on the modern mystery.
Advance praise for It’s a Crime
“It’s a Crime is so lilting and witty that the sorrow at its heart creeps in on stocking feet. Jacqueline Carey is an original, and this is her unforgettable take on our ethically challenged times.”
–Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover
“If Jay Gatsby and Nancy Drew had had a baby, its take on twenty-first-century American corruption and denial might be as trenchant as Jacqueline Carey’s, but I doubt it.”
–Roy Blount, Jr., author of Long Time Leaving
“Rarely does a novel come along with so much ebullient wit, such ethical clarity, and so many beautiful flowers. Jacqueline Carey takes on white-collar crime, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the nagging question of forsythias with equal fascination and agility. It’s a Crime is satirical, lyrical, full of heart, and a joy to read.”
–Cathleen Schine, author of The New Yorkers