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Absent Friends
by S.J. Rozan

Category: Fiction / Mystery
0 pages; ISBN: 0385338031

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


Absent Friends
S.J. Rozan
Delacorte, Oct 2004, $24.00, 384 pp.
ISBN: 0385338031

NYC firefighter Captain James McCaffrey is one of the fallen heroes who died trying to save lives during the tragic collapse of the Twin Towers. James had a heroic history with the department before his death; however reporter Harry Randall paints a darker side of the fallen hero. He insists that two decades ago 9/11, James and his six Staten Island compatriots were involved and probably killed a stepson of a mob kingpin; one of them Mark went to prison.

The four survivors of the magnificent seven, two including Mark having died years ago, rally to protect their deceased childhood leader’s reputation. The final foursome look back at what happened, but soon begin to wonder why James consistently and anonymously gave money to the family of Mark. Could James be paying off blackmail, guilt or could he be simply taking care of a friend?

The multiple perspectives, which include flashbacks and the thoughts when alive of individuals now dead, adds complexity, but makes it difficult to keep track of who thinks what of James. Still the backdrop of the aftermath of 9/11 on the City provides a fantastic thriller as the James-Mark relationship is shown up as a minor nothingness in comparison to the humongous tragedy. S.J. Rozan keeps the two outlooks apart so that the audience admires a heroic fallen first responder in a city reeling but already beginning to recover by 9/12. His allegedly dark past seems minuscule with his actions when people needed him. This is a strong look at the immediate post 9/11 Manhattan.

Harriet Klausner


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