Two Mexican illegals idle in a Brooklyn parking lot late at night. Then they're pinned into their car by two other vehicles, and one—a sewage truck—empties its payload through the sunroof, drowning the women in a sea of shit. Welcome to Colin Harrison's New York, where the trickle-down effect involves an extravagantly wealthy man urinating in his marble bathtub every morning, and a pair of innocent laborers catching the waste on the other end. A master of literate sleaze, Harrison (The Havana Room, Afterburn) adds another compulsively readable thriller to the pile with The Finder, his latest foray into the city's Darwinian underbelly. In this world, money is power and power is exerted from the top down, creating a sort of vicious hierarchy in which men from every social stratum are obliged to turn the screws on the one right below.
As it turns out, the shit wasn't meant for the two Mexican women; it was intended for their Chinese supervisor, Jin Li, who runs an after-hours office-cleaning and document-shredding outfit called CorpServe. CorpServe has a hidden service in corporate espionage: Jin seeks out sensitive inside information and leaks it to her brother Chen, who in turn serves a group of Chinese investors intent on manipulating the stock market to their advantage. Based on Jin's findings, Chen's group has made a killing shorting stock in a drug company called Good Pharma, but when the powers that be uncover this scheme, they go after her. Good Pharma's glad-handing number-two man wanted to "send a message" to Jin, though he never intended for anyone to die. But once the wheels are in motion, all sorts of opportunistic scumbags come out of the woodwork. Jin's safety rests in the hands of her ex-boyfriend Ray, a former 9/11 firefighter who has his own crosses to bear.
Much like his last book, The Havana Room, Harrison excels more at setup than follow-through; his ending hastily resolves a thicket of story strands that were more deftly orchestrated in the first two acts. Nevertheless, he creates a gallery of colorful heroes and lowlifes, from a diabolical alpha male who turns a cocktail-party prostate exam into something more horrifying than it sounds, to Ray's father, a terminally ill former detective who contributes to the cause between narcotizing shots of Dilaudid. As ever, Harrison doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, and when he's at his best, as he is throughout much of The Finder, trash doesn't get more sophisticated.