John March is a private investigator three years after his life collapsed with the death of his wife due to a serial killer. The pain is still fresh as are the constant and well-meaning efforts from family concerning his chosen profession.
But March goes his own way as most loners do and at the request of a friend takes the strange case of Rick Pierro. Rick is wealthy by anyone's standards and is being blackmailed. From documents the blackmailer supplied and is threatening to use, it appears that Rick was a small part of a massive money-laundering scheme years ago. Part of the scheme has come to light in the last year or so and multiple investigations are underway. While Rick admits to doing business deals with the principals named in the documents, he claims that the documents themselves are fakes and that all his deals were and still are legit. With his job on Wall Street in jeopardy, Rick wants to pay off the blackmailer once, if the person can be convinced not to come back for more. Rick can't afford a hint of scandal should anything come out but has no intention of being bled dry either.
March thinks the whole deal is strange and problematic at best but agrees to do what he can. Before long, he suspects that Rick is lying to him and that Rick isn't the only one that the blackmailer has blackmailed. But the blackmailer, who takes offense at being looked for isn't the only one that has resources to deal with March. So too does a Federal Prosecutor and her task force which have to show result from months of investigation and at this point, they don't care how they go about it.
This report prepared by Kevin R. Tipple
Knopf, Aug 2003, 22.95
If anyone knows the price of fame it is John March, a former upstate New York law enforcement official. John gained his fifteen minutes of distinction when he solved a serial killer case, but at the cost of the murderer killing his spouse. Leaving his job to drown his sorrow and guilt with the bottle, John eventually relocates to Manhattan to work as a private investigator.
College friend attorney Mike Metz arranges for John to help investment banker Rick Pierro. Someone is blackmailing Rick using documentation from as late as eighteen years ago that alleges the financier was part of a money-laundering scheme. The culprit threatens Rick's career by aborting a major promotion to the executive committee if the allegations became known. Rick wants John to find the extortionist in order to strike a deal until the selections are made in five weeks. Though accounting forensics is outside his lane, John accepts the case. However, the FBI tells him to stay out or else face charges of impeding a federal investigation while John's inquiries go nowhere except to a missing financier.
BLACK MAPS takes the white collar out of the financial mystery by placing it inside an urban noir private investigative tale with a blue-collar attitude due to the hero. The story line is somewhat complex because of the fiscal dealings, but more so because of John who swims in a salty sea filled with tuxedo sharks with he being a fresh water guppy. Though his angst and guilt at times feels overwhelming, the lead character is a strong individual. Peter Spiegelman needs to write more adventures of John in the land of Wall Street.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner