WHAT’s it ABOUT: A recent college grad’s first job as a structural engineer is to map the 15 floors of an abandoned bank building in downtown Cleveland. When the bank failed twenty years prior, the doors were locked and everything is still in the building – files, desks with lipstick-stained coffee cups, full ashtrays, and bank deposit boxes. Why did the bank fail? Why did they leave everything? Why is our protag (her name is Iris) finding keys and odd ‘clues’ that inspire her to ask questions like “Why did the bank fail?” and “Why hasn’t anybody claimed their stuff in the deposit boxes?”
The story switches between Iris in 1998 and two bank clerks (Maxine and Beatrice) from 1978 who also have questions about curious goings-on at the bank in the weeks up to the sudden shut down.
It is a fast-paced tale of intrigue and dirty deeds, the rich and the have-nots, powerful men and the women they underestimate.
WHAT’s GOOD: The 1978 story was much more interesting and follows Beatrice who is rather naive and her new best friend ‘Max’ who may be too smart for her own good. Beatrice has secrets of her own — some she herself doesn’t even know but she gets to find out.
What’s NOT so good: Quite a bit, sadly. Iris is complicated but not interesting nor likable – she is supposedly valedictorian of her college engineering class but she has zero ambition and sloppy habits. She is not impressive; claims she wants to make a good impression at work but is constantly late and hungover. She didn’t fit her own story. The minor characters get lost or disregarded along the way. What really was Nick after? Ramone didn’t quite make sense. Max was cool and Beatrice was a kid easy to cheer for – she eventually finds her spunk. But the bank stuff? — the bad guys were hard to differentiate from each other. I found it rather incredulous that so many years would go by and nothing was disturbed. (Spoiler? just highlight the following line: How and when did they manage to seal up the dead guy when every other office felt like it was abandoned with no notice? Too odd.
The resolution left a lot of unanswered question or maybe only gave unsatisfactory answers. But whatever, by that time I was ready for it to be over. I did race to the ending as one often does with a mystery ; the pacing was OK.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Iris was a mess; she didn’t make sense and as one goodreads reviewer says, “she was a dolt.” I agree but I also wanted to cheer for the woman engineer!! Go women in STEM. The mystery was OK without picking it apart with a technical fine comb and the pre-bank-closing story line was not too bad. The Bank Building was probably my favorite character. The idea of all those unclaimed bank deposit boxes and what could be hiding in them IS intriguing so I give credit to the author for running with that idea. I applaud her realized dream to write and see her story published. Cleveland, too, is central to the story so anyone who loves a book set in this Ohio town might get a kick out of it.
I actually think it could make a good film; mini-series, perhaps? Episode of Castle or Bones? (These are the only two shows I watch and infrequently at that.)
RATING: Two slices for “It’s OK.”
Pie Mention: ~ 19% – “Random customers, mostly older men, were scattered around the room, sipping coffee and eating pie.”