The Knowland Retribution (The Locator Series) - Richard Greener I have always thought that Americans confuse justice with revenge. When they cry for justice, what they really want is revenge. That could be a theme of this book.

A firm in New York calculates the cost-benefit ratio of cleaning up a meat plant known to be contaminated with e-coli against possible deaths from eating the bad meat. Three of the 864 people killed happen to be the wife, daughter and grandchild of Leonard Martin, a very successful real estate lawyer in Atlanta.

Martin goes on the skids, sitting around drinking and eating, until he receives a disc and an apology from a researcher who had just committed suicide in New York. Martin pulls himself together, sells his share in the law firm and all his possessions and investments, creates a shell Evangelical organization, pretends to buy property and a skiff in the Bahamas, but really buys 270 acres in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. There he exercises, eats properly, becomes fit and buys and becomes extremely competent with sniper rifles and ammunition. He sets out to achieve what he considers justice by killing those responsible for making the wrong decisions.

Suspense is built by switching between three players: Walter Sherman, a locator, who, as a child never lost anything and developed a skill at finding people; three businessmen who desperately need a killer found, yet they don’t know who this person might be; and Leonard Martin. A fourth key individual is Isobel, an obit writer for the Times who is used by both Sherman and Martin for their own ends. Sherman has his own ethical concerns because it has been his practice to simply find people, not follow through once the lost have been recovered. The executives have their own ideas of justice/revenge for the killing of their own.

If you are a vegetarian you will find much to like in this book since the author goes out of his way to condemn the way animals are killed and processed and the lackadaisical method of inspection, not to mention the callous indifference of corporate executives interested only in how a cost-benefit analysis of people dying from e-coli poisoning will affect their stock prices.

You can see what’s coming but it’s really well put together and just rivets your attention. Some may feel that Greener’s occasional screeds against the media, meat industry and corporate indifference to be not germane to the story. I did not find that to be true. And I must admit to some sympathy for Martin. In fact, I remain surprised that there are still some Wall Street execs walking around.