The main character, Anton, hails from Brooklyn, although his parents are first-generation immigrants to the United States. His family runs a furniture business that is on the wrong side of legal, and Anton grows up in close proximity with his cousin, Elena. Elena's mother is an illegal immigrant who is deported when Elena is young, and her father shortly follows her mother back to her home country, leaving Elena stranded with Anton's family.
Anton's cousin, like his parents, has no problem with illegal activities. However, Anton's conscience is troubled by his family's seemingly insouciant disregard for the law. While he starts out participating in his family's business, he can't wait to get on the straight and narrow path, which he finally does. But when he meets the woman he falls in love with, he is drawn into one last family activity - and it is this situation that changes everything.
I've been working my way backwards in time through Ms. Mandel's books, and it is interesting to see her style change in reverse. There are some common motifs in her writing and definitely similar composition in her stories - they flash backwards and forwards in time, revealing the story piece by piece to heighten the tension. But one thing that has stayed consistent with her writing, even from her first book, is the strength of her writing style. It is literary but immediate, with flawed characters that are easy to identify with, and it is the immediacy of her writing that keeps the reader turning the page. This is another book I would recommend for those interested in literary thrillers - a beautifully told story, and well worth the read.