At once a noir thriller and a literary excursion into urban America between the wars, The Disappearing Body is a tale of drug dealing and union-busting, murder and mayhem on both sides of the law that combines the atmospheric richness of Dashiell Hammett and the irresistible, subversive humor of Thomas Pynchon.
When Victor Ribe, an ex-junkie and World War I veteran, is mysteriously released from prison after serving fifteen years for a murder he didn’t commit, the city he returns to is heating up for another kind of war. Prohibition has been repealed and the underworld is developing a new source of profits–illegal heroin trafficking. Meanwhile, the city’s legitimate industries are launching an offensive against unionization and the specter of Communism–and they’re not above fighting dirty.
When Victor’s old Army buddy Freddy Stillman, a munitions salesman, reports a murder but can’t explain why the body has disappeared, he unwittingly pulls himself and Victor into this bewildering swirl of corruption. It is a conspiracy that encompasses everyone–from a rising politician who may have just run into the end of his career to a young journalist driven as much by the nonstop energy of the Metro desk as she is by the mystery of her father’s suicide–in the book’s vast, noir cityscape.
David Grand, whose first novel, Louse, transformed the last days of Howard Hughes into compelling fiction, works the same dark magic here, weaving suspenseful mystery into his stunning, perversely hilarious portrait of the corruption, ambition, passion, and innocence of post-Prohibition America.