Shining City by Seth Greenland

Marcus Ripps is an ordinary guy – he manages a toy factory in Van Nuys, his wife, Jan, runs a small boutique, his son is getting ready for his bar mitzvah. Then the factory moves to China, Marcus loses his job and suddenly the family is struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Enter Marcus’ estranged brother Julian – or rather exit, since Julian joins the story as he’s dying of a heart attack. He leaves Marcus a dry cleaning business, which Marcus decides will be his family’s salvation.

Turns out the dry cleaning business is a front for a high-class call girl ring. Marcus decides to run the business anyway, but he’s the kind of guy who gets health insurance and 401(k)s for his escorts. When his wife finds out about the business (in dramatic fashion), she starts a book club for the girls.

The characters are fabulous: Julian, the career criminal; Plum, Jan’s partner and art school friend; Kostya, part bodyguard, part criminal mentor; Lenore, Marcus’ pot-smoking, pole-dancing mother-in-law. Everything is over-the-top – enough to be funny, but not enough to spoil the story. The ending is pure Hollywood and I caught myself casting the movie in my head as I was reading. I enjoyed this immensely and I highly recommend it.

My copy was an Advanced Reader edition; you can buy your copy here. For more information about Seth Greenland and his earlier works, check out his website.

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