The Manhattan Transfer
by Howard Greenberg
Llumina Press

"My father likes to say he looks for his enemies when he looks out from the terrace. He says their bodies should float up the river, or be found in car trunks parked along the parkway."

Facing financial ruin in the U.S. real estate meltdown, one of New York's leading Russian crime families seeks an unlikely ally in a powerful Italian family. The Russian Dandakovas offer the Italian Sardonas part ownership of a stretch of Brooklyn waterfront they had hoped to develop until it suddenly plummeted in value. In exchange, the Sardonas agree to use their clout to get a casino built in a waterfront Manhattan park. With a local politician blackmailed, and other string-pulling underway, all looks promising. But when a discovery on the Manhattan site threatens to derail the deal, tempers flare as both sides stand to lose big.

First-time novelist Howard Greenberg makes an impressive debut with skillful writing and story organization. Grounding the plot in the recent, deep recession lends currency. Detailed character sketches deftly delineate who's who before the plot gets thick. Frequent flashbacks, as characters reflect on how the two families came to be partners, and even farther back to how some of them met, are seamlessly incorporated with present events. There is abundant local flavor as Greenberg moves characters around New York City and its boroughs, and even sends them out to the Hamptons. It's clear that Greenberg, a longtime New Yorker, has a passion for the area's restaurants, clubs, scenic beauty, and cultural attractions, as he loads the book with them. The plot races along until the last twenty-five pages, when it abruptly snails and takes a little off its punch. Overall, a rock-solid start from a writer to watch.

Return to USR Home