Sunday, August 28, 2022

Review: The Fixer

The Fixer The Fixer by Joseph Finder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t know how many times we gotta go over this, people. If you find a bag of money then you should just leave it there. If you take it, bad things will happen.

But since we are a race of slow learners I guess it doesn’t hurt to go over it again.

Rick Hoffman was once an investigative reporter with a promising career, but he left that behind to take a high profile job with a swanky magazine specializing in fluff pieces. Unfortunately, when the magazine downsizes Rick is left unemployed, in debt, and with zero career prospects. He’s so broke that he’s staying in his father’s house which has been falling apart after years of neglect since a stroke put his dad in a nursing home two decades ago.

When Rick discovers over $3 million in cash hidden in one of the walls, he can’t help but give into temptation. He stashes the cash and goes on an ill-advised spending spree at first, but then he’s suddenly kidnapped by some people who threaten him if doesn’t hand it over to them. Rick scrambles for answers by digging into his father’s past as a shady lawyer who acted as a bagman/fixer for a huge construction project just before the stroke left him completely unable to communicate. The more Rick digs, the more dark secrets come out, and the danger gets worse all the time.

I’m a sucker for both stories about finding illicit cash and sleazy fixers so this should have been right in my wheelhouse, but I ultimately found it disappointing. That’s mainly because I didn’t care for the main character at all.

Yeah, I know that this is supposed to be an arc of Rick starting out as kind of jerk who once had potential to be something better and discovering his better nature again. This kind of story demands that the lead character either be so flawed or desperate that they are the kind of person who would take money that will surely bring trouble.

Yet Rick was just too stupid for my taste. He starts off pretty well in his early moves of stashing the money, but when the danger starts he behaves like a moron. Sure, he does some moves like moving around to different hotels and renting different cars, but this is a guy who gets kidnapped and nearly murdered not once, but twice. But he never does anything like get a weapon, hire bodyguards, leave town, or any other thing that having $3 million in cash would allow you to do.

Instead he just bumbles along while surviving mainly by luck. I also didn’t much care for the way he investigates all this. He’s supposed to be a former hot shit reporter who knows how to dig up dirt, and there is some stuff about him pulling records and finding clues. Yet his interactions with the people he tries to question are these incredibly lame efforts of him trying to trick them into believing he’s working on other stories, and yet when his flimsy lies collapse he just starts demanding answers which they have no real reason to give and usually don’t.

Overall, it was OK as a crime story, but never came close to really getting me interested after the money was found.

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