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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  318 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
An honest lawyer, a Czech hand model, and a box of mysterious Christmas ornaments, each play their part in Harrison's intricate mystery

George Young never thought of himself as a detective, but that's pretty much his vocation--an attorney for a top insurance firm, it’s his job to pin down suspicious claims. But Mrs. Corbett, the rich, eccentric wife of the firm's founder,
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published 2009)
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Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I've read several of the novels that started off as serials commissioned by the New York Times Magazine, and so far they've all been pretty flat. Risk is perhaps the best of them (memory of the others is a bit hazy), but that's not saying a great deal. It's by no means a bad novel, just a little unambitious and formulaic.

Some years ago the man who created the NYC legal firm of Patton, Corbett & Strode died, and more recently his son Roger was run over late at night by a garbage truck. One of
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Got this as a freebie from Picador.

Another reviewer described this book as "modern noir." Wish I had thought of that. George Young works for a law firm with one client, a large European insurance company. The firm's role is to investigate suspected fraudulent claims. The founder's widow asks George, who has a reputation for tenacity, to look into the death of her son, a man killed in an accident. There was no question it was an accident, the man had been drinking for hours before before he inadv
Mar 28, 2010 added it
Shelves: librarybook
Colin Harrison is one of those writers that I _want_ to like, and can always see what he was trying to do... but maybe that's the problem. I'm down with the regrets, ennui, and petty compromises of early middle age; but a TINY bit less exposition about them might have been all to the good. And I like how the thriller elements drive the action forward, but somehow the McGuffin doesn't end up supporting the themes of the rest of the story. And although the characters are vividly sketched in their ...more
Sam Reaves
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Colin Harrison writes "literary thrillers", and his best books rank high in both dimensions, literary quality and the punch we expect from a good crime novel. He's the New York writer I recommend when people start talking about New York writers. His books always show you something interesting about the Big Apple.
A lawyer at a firm which specializes in investigating fraudulent claims for a big insurer is tasked by the widow of the firm's founder with discovering what drove her son to such distra
Susan Miller
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This short novel was commissioned as a fifteen part weekly serial for "The New York Times". I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story was tight and well developed. The characters were believable and the main character was intriguing, thoughtfully developed and totally believable. The book made sense. This story could have happened in real life.

This book could be read in an afternoon, although it took me longer due to other commitments. I liked it so much that when I returned it to the Berkley P
Stephen Selbst
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Another of Colin Harrison's satisfying but offbeat thrillers. An elderly widow asks a middle-aged lawyer to solve an apparent mystery surrounding the death of her son. The lawyer finds himself involved with a mysterious Czech hand model, Russian thugs and a cache of rhodium worth perhaps $1 million. The breadcrumbs are all there, but I'll admit I didn't figure this one out.
Steve Thomson
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Easy quick read from an excellent author on New Yorks hidden sleaze.
Elaine Gottlieb
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
An short entertaining read. Harrison is a smooth, engaging writer. Well-written fun mystery novel.
Boris Feldman
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reigning king of New York Noir?
The plot is good (3 * good), but the prose and tone are spot on.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
I know this is tacky but I'm trying to add to my list without writing my own reviews. I need this info for my own memory jogging. You gotta love an insurance adjuster as hero.

From The Washington Post's Book World/ Reviewed by by Patrick Anderson Colin Harrison writes sophisticated novels set in New York. They earn excellent reviews but aren't as well known as they should be. Typically in Harrison's novels, a man who operates at the city's more rarefied levels makes a mistake t
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
I finished this book. It's a short book, but now what I would call quick. I wasn't interested in the book enough to be quick. It actually took me much longer than it should have to read.

It's not poorly written, doesn't involve blood, gore or other things that would immediatly turn a reader off, but I just wasn't into it. I wasn't connected to any of the characters. In fact, I can't remember the names of them without opening the book, or looking in the summary. The author really tries to create
George Young is an attorney for a New York insurance firm. His work involves analysis of suspicious insurance claims.

One day he's called to the come of Mrs. Corbett, widow of the firm's founder. She's in poor health and wants George to look into what her son, Roger, was doing prior to the time he walked into the path on an oncoming truck and was killed.

In a story that "The Washington Post' compares to "The Bonfire of Vanities," George does some research and finds that Roger was in a bar with a g
Nov 01, 2015 rated it liked it
George Young, a middle-level attorney for a law firm that services one client—a large insurance company—is asked to investigate the death of his mentor's son. The son, a failed hedge fund plunger, walked into the path of a truck while preoccupied with something. The cause of death being obvious, George is asked to find out what the somet hing was. Early in the investigation, George's wife cautions him to not upset their comfortabe life by engaging in a quixotic chase into the ruins of a failedli ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
What is is it Colin Harrison? I read The Finder and The Havana Room, two complex, rich and taut stories in vividly painted worlds. On that strength, I read Bodies Electric, a miserable slog that shattered all the good will that lead me to it. I said then that it'd be a while until I tried Harrison again. This one is somewhere in the middle despite my star rating matching Bodies Electric. This is actually a novella, which I didn't realize and is probably the excuse for so little happening. The se ...more
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
I won this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. When I received it, I was surprised to see that it was very short - only about 180 pages. Unfortunately, it felt too short.

The story was good, and the book had a nice and fast pace to it which kept me reading, but it didn't get me attached or invested in any way. The characters were underdeveloped, which made the ending feel less impacting than it should have, which was a shame because there was a ton of potential for the characters to be extremely i
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I have decided, irony-oblivious that I usually am, that this book must be a parody. Unlike the previous Harrison book I read, which depicted suffocation by excrement and a whole lot of gore, this one includes characters such as the dentist whose arm was cut off by a subway door, saved from bleeding to death by a Japanese tourist wielding the belt from her dress. The inside cover says it all: "An honest lawyer, a Czech hand model, and a box of mysterious Christmas ornaments."

This book was origina
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read Colin Harrison's previous novel, the Finder and really enjoyed it (although I noticed that not a lot of Goodreads readers were fans). This book was assigned as a book club selection and I was looking forward to another Harrison read. This book is short, only 176 pages and it only took me two days to read. The length helps, as does the story. The book is about an accidental death that a lawyer is asked to solve. The story has many turns, and the author doesn't dilly-dally, but moves fast. ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had really enjoyed "The Finder", which was the first book I read by Harrison. This time, although I liked reading "Risk" as well, I was a bit disappointed when I could see where the book was headed before the narrator did. I think it was supposed to come as a surprise to the reader, yet some elements were planted early on that made me see it coming too early.

I would also say that the central part of the book feels totally disconnected to the "finale", shifting gears and mood much too abruptly.
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Colin Harrison is among my favorite authors. All of his works take place in New York City. This book involves George Young an attorney working for a firm of lawyers which represents various insurance companies. George functions as an investigator for suspicious claims. In Risk, he is asked by the firm's founder's widow to investigate the circumstances of her son's violent death. This novel is well plotted and the characters are well drawn. It was originally intended as a seriesl in a magazine. N ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thrillers
This is a fine novella by a talented writer. It is simple but well constructed and can be read in a few hours. I stretched it out over several days simply for lack of time. The narrator, George Young, is fulfilling the dying wish of the widow of his former employer. In the process, he reveals himself to the reader and meets some very interesting characters. Nothing new here but very well written and the plot is believable. Highly recommended for those who prefer an intelligent thriller to the "s ...more
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
An Attorney, George Young, is asked a favor by an old friend. Mrs. Collins is dying and wants to know what her son was so occupied with when he was hit by a truck. I felt this was a bare-bones novel with sketchy character details. Basicly a good read but at the end you are left with unanswered questions. The story had a feel of nostalgia like "Draget" with Joe Friday narrating, "Just the facts ma'am"
Oct 30, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm a Colin Harrison fan. I thought that his novel Afterburn, was one of the best, cheesiest, over the top books that I have ever read. The ending of that novel was a masterpiece. I've read a few books in the past 40 plus years. I can't say that I recommend his writing, because it's not for everyone. But when I think about it, I'm not a big fan of the everyman (everyperson?) anyway. Let the sheep eat their grass - I'll munch on strange plants and bitter herbs, thank you very much.
Nov 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: paperbacks-read
A Goodreads win.

Fast paced very easy read. I enjoyed the flow and was truly interested in what happened next.

At one point towards the end a character was brought back into the story that I didn't remember so I had to go back and find the character so that it made sense. I truly do not know if this was poor character development of this one character or if I was distracted while I was reading the earlier section.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
The main character of this book, an insurance adjuster, is commissioned to look into the mysterious death of his former mentor's son, and ends up in a melodramatic plot involving the Russian mafia and a mysterious Czech woman. The story was short and fast-paced, but I found the character development to be very weak, and there weren't enough twists and turns for a proper mystery novel. The characters all had a flippant aura about them that led me not to be very interested in them as well.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
3 1/2 starts. George is an attorney in a top insurance firm, and it's his job to investigate suspicious claims. Mrs. Corbett, the eccentric wife of the firm's decesased founder, asks George to find out the circumstances of her son Roger's violent death. The search takes him to Eliska, Roger's mistress, and dealings with the Russian maffia. In the long run, George finds out details of his own past, which is what Mrs. Corbett was intending. A short, quick read. Engaging.
Darcia Helle
Dec 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This short novel was a fun, light read. I thought it was well-written. George Young, the main character, is a lawyer who finds himself caught up in a little more danger and intrigue than he's used to. I enjoyed the dialogue and the mix of humor and mystery. I was immediately drawn in and didn't skip a word, which, to me, equals a good book!
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-detective
After reading the New York Times Book Review about this short novel, I was glad to have read it. I liked how Harrison captured New York City and the unravelling of a sad, but realistic story of a middle-level Wall Street executives life after he is accidentally flattened by a garbage truck. There is real drama lurking in the side plots. Highly recommended.
Tom Navratil
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A contemporary noir gem. I read it in a single day, staying up til 1:30 am on a school night. The twist, the gist, is set up with elegance and feeling. When all the pieces click into place, the realization hits like a breaker and I found myself tumbling in the surf, upended, and loving the moment. Highly recommend.
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This book will make a fun read for my newly-transplanted Brooklyn friend who doesn't read enough, but loves Raymond Chandler-esque stuff. It was very quick and interesting enough. Made me wonder about the minor characters like Anna Hewes and what her story might be. Or George Young's wife. I read this on Sherman Alexie's recommendation from his recent NY Times interview.
Ted Kendall
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Awesome. I found a new author and he has lots of books to read. I loved Risk. It was a well plotted, suspenseful mystery that take some turns that you just barely think you have figured out as you go, but still surprise you. And, it was very well written. The hero is no superman, a real down to earth guy. Liked that. Excellent read. Looking forward to more books to read from this author.
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Colin Harrison is a crime novelist. He is a vice president and senior editor at Scribner.
He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with his wife, the writer Kathryn Harrison, and their three children (Sarah, Walker and Julia).

He attended: Haverford College, BA 1982; University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. MFA 1986

His short nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Po
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