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The Fixer
Cover of The Fixer
The Fixer
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New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder's breakneck stand-alone thriller about the secrets families can keep—and the danger of their discovery.
When former investigative reporter Rick Hoffman loses his job, fiancée, and apartment, his only option is to move back into—and renovate—the home of his miserable youth, now empty and in decay since the stroke that put his father in a nursing home.

As Rick starts to pull apart the old house, he makes an electrifying discovery—millions of dollars hidden in the walls. It's enough money to completely transform Rick's life—and everything he thought he knew about his father. Yet the more of his father's hidden past that Rick brings to light, the more dangerous his present becomes. Soon, he finds himself on the run from deadly enemies desperate to keep the past buried, and only solving the mystery of his father—a man who has been unable to communicate, comprehend, or care for himself for almost 20 years—will save Rick...if he can survive long enough to do it.

New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder's breakneck stand-alone thriller about the secrets families can keep—and the danger of their discovery.
When former investigative reporter Rick Hoffman loses his job, fiancée, and apartment, his only option is to move back into—and renovate—the home of his miserable youth, now empty and in decay since the stroke that put his father in a nursing home.

As Rick starts to pull apart the old house, he makes an electrifying discovery—millions of dollars hidden in the walls. It's enough money to completely transform Rick's life—and everything he thought he knew about his father. Yet the more of his father's hidden past that Rick brings to light, the more dangerous his present becomes. Soon, he finds himself on the run from deadly enemies desperate to keep the past buried, and only solving the mystery of his father—a man who has been unable to communicate, comprehend, or care for himself for almost 20 years—will save Rick...if he can survive long enough to do it.

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    1

    On a lovely West Cambridge street this 1903 Queen Anne home is on a large level lot with many mature trees. Graciously proportioned rooms and elegant millwork. Pocket doors and two working fireplaces with original ceramic tile. The house is in need of updating, please see attached home inspection report.

    The house was a dump. There was no way around it. The listing had been online for seven months, and it had generated a flurry of interest at first and one offer so lowball that the real estate agent refused to dignify it with a reply. The agent had written the ad himself and was justifiably proud of it. It was a great ad. It was also a steaming pile of horseshit, as everyone eventually discovered when they got a look at the house. An absolute lie. The place was a disaster. A money pit. Potential buyers usually fled after spending a minute or two stumbling through the decaying interior.

    So Rick Hoffman, who'd left the family house on Clayton Street in Cambridge seventeen years ago, solemnly vowing never to return, was now camping out in what used to be his father's study, on the second floor. December in Boston could get awfully cold, but he'd turned off the heat, which was ridiculously expensive, so he was sleeping fully clothed in a sub-zero expedition sleeping bag on the old leather couch, next to a space heater. The study smelled vaguely of cat piss. Glassed-in legal bookcases lined the walls, tall and rickety. On his father's desk was an ancient IBM PC, in early-computer ivory, that belonged in the Smithsonian, and an Oki Data dot-matrix printer. If the 1980s ever came back, he'd be all set. His old bedroom, where he'd lived until he went off to college, had become a storeroom for broken furniture and cardboard boxes of files. So he slept on the leather sofa in a room as cold as a meat locker with the faint aroma of cat urine in the air.

    This was, he realized, the lowest point in his life.

    He had nowhere else to live. A week earlier he'd been forced to move out of the Back Bay apartment he'd shared with his (now) ex-fiancée until Holly had announced she no longer wanted to marry him. He'd spent a few nights in a motel on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, but his money was running out fast. He had no income anymore. He'd sent out his résumé to dozens of magazines and newspapers, with no reply. He'd sold his watch, a nice Baume & Mercier, on eBay and unloaded most of his fancy clothes on a website that let you buy or sell "gently used, high-end" clothing.

    His money was almost gone. He was lucky he had a place to crash for free. But it didn't feel so lucky, sleeping in the cold hovel on Clayton Street, the house he and his sister had grown up in.

    Wendy, three years younger than Rick, was living in Bellingham, Washington, with her partner, Sarah, who owned a vegan restaurant. "Just sell the damned place," she'd told Rick. "The house is shit, but the land's got to be worth a couple hundred thousand bucks. That's money I could use."

    Until Holly had broken off the engagement and kicked him out of their apartment on Beacon Street, that had seemed like a decent plan. But Rick needed a place to live, at least until he found another job, got back on his feet.

    * * *

    Two months ago, he'd been the executive editor of Back Bay, a glossy magazine devoted to the rich and the famous in Boston, the movers and shakers. It had just enough slavish coverage of celebrity chefs and posh weddings and best bartenders to ensure a nice, fat magazine, and just the right dash of snark—a knife-edge balance, really—to hook covetous and aspirational readers who considered themselves smart and...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 27, 2015
    Rick Hoffman, the hero of this so-so standalone from Thriller Award–winner Finder (Suspicion), has been fired from his high-flying job as a celebrity journalist, dumped by his fiancée, and reduced to camping out in his boyhood home in Cambridge, Mass., empty for years while his father has languished in a nursing home after a paralyzing stroke. When Rick finds more than $3.4 million in cash in the walls of his dad’s crumbling manse, it greatly improves his financial situation, but greatly diminishes the quality of his life as he searches for the source of the loot. Despite being attacked, then kidnapped and tortured, he doggedly continues to uncover his father’s sketchy past as “a bag man and a fixer.” Rick manages to touch a lot of nerves, most notably those of a high-profile PR man connected with Boston’s public works project known as the Big Dig. Rick’s look into his father’s past is touching and human, but readers should be prepared for an overblown plot and a predictable denouement. Agent: Daniel Conaway, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    A struggling writer finds $3.4 million in cash in a crawl space in his old house, leading him to discover the truth about his stroke-ridden father. Since Rick Hoffman lost his lucrative job with a slick city magazine, things have gotten so bad that he's camping out in his family's disheveled, heat-deprived home in Cambridge. His father, Leonard, a former lawyer, is in a nursing home, unable to speak or communicate. An ace investigative reporter for the Boston Globe before he was hired by the Back Bay to write about rich people, Rick begins nosing around to find out where the money came from. In no time at all, he suffers his first beating from bad guys who warn him to back off. Living large, he hides out in hotel rooms while investigating his father's past. Leonard, it turns out, is a man of many secrets. He was a bagman for strip clubs and porn clubs. He was also an activist pro bono lawyer for civil liberties causes. Digging through city records and interviewing former connections of his father's, Rick uncovers a coverup of major proportions-and more surprises. As in his previous novel, Suspicion (2014), Finder gives us a character who acts stupidly to pull himself out of bad circumstances. But neither the lack of credibility nor Rick's thinness as a character keeps the book from being a fun read. Finder returns with another thriller that will have you shaking your head over the protagonist's actions but still turning the pages to find out what happens next.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2015

    Having lost his job and apartment, Rick Hoffman moves into his abandoned childhood home, where renovation reveals something that puts his life in danger. After 2014's Suspicion.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 1, 2015
    Finder can make reading about someone walking across a room excruciatingly suspenseful. In this, the tenth of Finder's stand-alone thrillers, decay is the predominant theme. Rick Hoffman is haunted by the fact that his original values have been lost. He started out as an investigative journalist, and did well at it until he was seduced by money into working for Back Bay, a glitzy Boston monthly. Now he's out of work, his job eliminated; his girlfriend no longer interested; his apartment no longer affordable. He has no choice but to move back into his childhood home, which is falling apart and empty. In trying to find out what creatures are scrabbling around inside the walls, Rick discovers a stack of money running into millions. He races to get the money out of the house (a somewhat sketchy neighbor was with him when he made the discovery) and into a safe place. But other people are right behind him. Rick's challenge is to stay one step ahead of his pursuers while figuring out the backstory on the money. He uses his investigative-journalism background in intriguing and totally believable ways, but the bad guys seem to be just as intelligent. This is a thriller that is as much about redemption as it is about escape. A remarkable, exciting read.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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