Patrick Hoffman’s Every Man A Menace was one of the best things I read last year; a layered, eagle’s eye view of a major drug transaction from street level to boss level. I couldn’t put it down and when I heard he was coming out with one that covered corporate espionage in New York City, I wasn’t going to hesitate getting my hands on a copy of it.
Clean Hands doesn’t hit those high notes but it’s pretty good in its own right. While its formatted differently than Every Man, using shifting perspectives as opposed to different chapters with particular POV, it’s still similar: street level to boss level. A major lawsuit is happening between two conglomerates suing each other. A high end law firm handling one side of it just lost a treasure trove of documents into the ether. Hijinks ensue. Expensive, dangerous, fraught-with-peril hijinks.
Hoffman’s gift is creating realistic characters engaged in his stories that make the stakes feel higher. With deft touches of exposition and introspection, we feel like we know these people, even as their motives aren’t entirely clear. There’s no one really to root for or root against, though you may feel sympathy to some characters over others. But they’re all caught in this messed up world, striving to do the best that they can, their lives left to chances of fate.
It’s not as taut as Every Man. There are a couple of plot points that could have been sanded down and I think Hoffman adds one layer too many at the end (Every Man was the perfect amount of brushstrokes). But still, this is an exciting read from a talented writer.