George V. Reilly

Review: Absent Friends

Absent Friends
Title: Absent Friends
Author: S.J. Rozan
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Dell
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 541
Keywords: fiction, mystery
Reading period: 3 January, 2009

Rozan weaves together two stories here, past and present.

Seven children, four boys and three girls, grow up together on Staten Island in the 1960s and 70s. In early adulthood, one of the young men ac­ci­den­tal­ly kills another, then is killed in prison. A third boy, Jimmy McCaffrey, becomes estranged from the others and moves to Manhattan where he rises in the Fire Department.

Jimmy dies in the Twin Towers on 9/11, doing what he did best: saving people. A month later, a washed-up newspaper reporter writes a story in­sin­u­at­ing that there was something unsavory in Jimmy’s past. Then the reporter leaps from a bridge, an apparent suicide. His lover doesn’t believe it’s a suicide and wants to dig deeper.

Rozan cuts back and forth between the two stories. Each story informs the other. Some characters want to find the truth; others would rather conceal it. What is that truth? And are the costs of revealing that truth too high, especially for a community reeling from the losses of 9/11?

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