Booklist Review on Shining City

Shining City.
Greenland, Seth (author). 
July 2008. 320p. Bloomsbury, hardcover, $24.95 (9781596915046). 
First published July, 2008 (Booklist).

Angeleno Marcus Ripps has always been a model citizen. His brother, Julian, is decidedly less virtuous. When Julian dies of a heart attack, Marcus takes over his dry-cleaning business, with nary an inkling of the venture’s dirty details. Turns out, Julian has been running a booming escort service, with a selection of comely ladies from all corners of the globe. Marcus sets his ethics aside to do right by his brother; he continues to operate the business—without telling his wife, Jan. But Jan soon becomes privy to the prurient enterprise and, in a scarcely believable display of spousal understanding, agrees to be his partner. (After all, she says, the lucrative biz will help them pay for the bar mitzvah of their son, whose prepubescent pals have all had rap stars and dancing girls at theirs.) Marcus is a terrific flawed hero, but some of the novel’s other characters (like his pole-dancing mother-in-law, Lenore) are over-the-top. Greenland (The Bones, 2005) has a savage wit, which does much to make up for an occasionally belabored plot.