By: Patrick Finegan
Publisher: Two Skates Publishing
Publication Date: March 2019
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Irony sets in with a New York cooperative apartment dwelling when one act of goodwill evolves into an “everything sinister” change of events in Patrick Finegan’s debut, Cooperative Lives.
Jack Roberts has more than his fair share of problems. If finding himself unemployed after having worked for three different offices—all of which go belly up—wasn’t enough, he now has to care for his wife Susan, who uses a wheelchair as a result of a skiing accident. Fortunately, Melissa, their teenaged daughter, keeps him active with school and her extracurricular figure skating lessons.
While out as a family, walking about the city, life for the Roberts takes an unexpected turn when Sheldon Vogel, a widower and tenant in the same apartment complex, saves Susan from getting hit by a bus. What Jack doesn’t know is that a chain of events from Sheldon’s sacrificial act will unfold into nothing less than a nightmare. Whether or not Jack and his family come out unscathed remains to be seen.
Patrick Finegan pens a riveting and unnerving mystery in his debut, Cooperative Lives.The lawyer and financial consultant turned rising author knows a thing or two about life in New York City, having lived and worked there for thirty-plus years. Finegan succinctly captures the essence of the country's most populated megacity, and not just the sights, sounds, and smells. What is so unique about his plot is the way he capitalizes on New Yorkers’ quirks—lack of eye contact, always on the go (especially with the crazy traffic), and small talk—amid a host of elusive characters.
Finegan’s forty-plus cast that ranges from innocent to mainly shifty co-op residents, doctors, lawyers, and beyond, is as multilayered as his plot. A good example is George Wallace (Wally), who is one of the tenants and is a devoted husband and father. He’s also a topnotch hacker. Another is co-op tenant Mildred Whiting Blaszczyk, who not only wants to be acclaimed as a rising romance author but also thinks nothing of having the maid dust her taxidermic dog. Divided into four sections, Cooperative Lives keeps to third-person POV while shifting cast members between the present (2012-2013) and the past (backstories and subplots), which then provide glimpses into the nitty-gritty of prominent and supporting characters, while at the same time slowly building tension. Finegan skillfully takes all of these literary elements to create unanticipated conflict, resolution, and a startling ending.
Quill says: A page-turner from beginning to end, Cooperative Lives is a must for mystery aficionados.