As a result of the massive hurricanes that have hit New York City recently, Amtrak’s trains tunnels were damaged by flooding, subways were impacted and the lower reaches of Manhattan were imperiled. Where New York City political establishment had thought that just closing the subways would be enough to prevent problems, it is now weighing more drastic actions to stop the next tidal surge.
In Lev A.C. Rosen’s new novel “Depth”http://www.amazon.com/Depth-Lev-AC-Rosen/dp/1941393071, he imagines a Noahian flood caused by global warming, that sweeps away the entire Eastern seaboard of America. However a million New Yorkers still live in flooded Manhattan, all above the 20th floor of the giant skyscrapers there. Bridges connect buildings, boats travel between towers, and the people try not to slide off slick walkways into the dark waters below. Rosen’s setting is evocative and eerie, the words making a sharp image in your brain. Manhattan remains a liberal bastion in a country controlled by the more conservative center. Rosen’s flooded Manhattan is a great idea, dark, foggy and evocative.
It’s too bad that the rest of the novel does not follow suit. The murder mystery and treasure hunt at the center of the novel is very intricate, overly so. Maybe because Rosen spends so much time building up the atmosphere. Or maybe because Rosen flabs up the story in an attempt to provide a background to his main character while also adding in extra wrinkles to the central mystery to make it more involved. While fleshing out the central character is a good idea and adding red herrings, tricks, dead ends, and other contrivances is mother’s milk to a mystery, Rosen’s novel is a glass house carnival ride. What looks like the clear path is just one more blocked door. On the plus side, Simone Pearce pierces the fog of the story and figures out the solution in a creative manner. She may be a very good character.
Simone Pearce is a private detective making her living snooping. Hired by the wife, Linnea St. Michel, Simone snaps pics of Henry St. Michel, the suspected conniving husband who is meeting with a blonde, but not for the horizontal mambo as he appears to be giving her cash. The blonde is not only meeting up with Linnea’s husband, but many of Manhattan’s well to do. It seems that there is a coral sculpture by a famous artist that is being peddled by the blonde.
Simone is friends with Caroline, the scion of a powerful New York family and the Mayor’s assistant. Caroline steers Simone to DeCostas, who thinks that there may be a secret tunnel connecting Manhattan to the mainland in one of bigger skyscrapers in New York. He wants to test them. But he has a hot bod and Simone is not afraid to sample his goods.
But then Simone sees Henry St Michel get killed and becomes a prime suspect of the police. Her ex lover is a cop who wants to help her, but Kluren, Simone’s father’s ex partner suspects Simone of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Simone does not know who to trust as she catches both DeCostas and her friend Caroline meeting with the blonde. Then Linnea disappears and Simone suspects foul play. The coral sculpture holds the key.
Rosen’s 260 page novel is full of possible suspects who may want the sculpture — Mr. Ryan, a rich shady businessman, Pastor Sorenson, the head of a mainland congregation, Caroline’s family, Lou Freth, Henry’s partner, Trixie, Henry’s mother, and Dash, another detective, who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Add in Simone’s enlightenment about her mother’s disappearance and the slim volume bulges at the seams.
The denouement returns to the dark waters surrounding Manhattan, but you will have to be a strong swimmer to get to their depths. Depth is a good book, but too full of itself to escape its own deep undercurrents. Swim on.