Jack Dana is a star student of history at Yale University with a probable future in the academic world when he changes course right after the events of 9/11. He joins the Marines as an infantry officer and receives training in the world of damaging and killing other human beings; a far cry from the staid world of academia. He serves in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is seriously wounded in the field.
While recuperating from the wound he begins writing a book about his military experiences. Jack is invited to move in with his uncle Harry, his surrogate father, in New York’s Manhattan borough. He completes the novel while there, and with help from Harry finds a publisher who buys the book. He writes another novel and succeeds in selling that also.
Jack decides that with the success of two books he is entitled to a vacation and goes to Brazil staying at a ranch there for three months. Ultimately bored with the quiet life he flies home but an e-mail arrives indicating that uncle Harry has committed suicide by hanging himself in a home that he owns in Sag Harbor on Long Island.
Jack starts to delve into the apparent suicide and begins unearthing indications that Harry had begun gathering data about an Abner Brown who is the most important client for the law firm Harry worked for. In the course of Jack’s investigation he meets Kerry Black, a young woman employed by Harry’s law firm, with whom he strikes up a serious romance. He also gets help in his investigations from a college friend of his who now works for the CIA and realizes that uncle Harry was murdered in order to silence him from revealing what he has learned about Abner Brown’s real activities.
Begley keeps you reading, and although this is not an all nighter since there is little suspense in the story, it still is a good novel. The ending is expected but definitely sets the scene for more Jack Dana books incorporating the background intelligence he has with the ability to do physical damage to his enemies.
4/15 Paul Lane
KILLER COME HITHER by Louis Begley. Nan A. Talese (April 7, 2015). ISBN 978-0385539142. 256p.