It’s Halloween night in Queens, N.Y. Alex Nicholas, flamboyant bookie and loan shark, is enjoying his favorite meal at his favorite restaurant with his favorite woman who is not his wife. Sated with veal parmigiana and Chivas Regal, he dials his brother Michael’s number. He has a very important secret to tell him. Then he sees the skinny kid with the gun. In his last seconds before a bullet ends his life, Alex tells himself: Michael was smart; he would figure it all out.
Alex and Michael were as different as two brothers could be. Alex, once on track to become a star baseball player, instead became very successful in a collection of illegal businesses. He’d married three gorgeous women, divorced two, kept multiple mistresses, and had friends who carried guns. His brother Michael was living the high end of The American Dream. He was a straight-arrow, squeaky-clean CEO of a financial management company, with one beautiful wife, a daughter in college and a million-dollar colonial in Connecticut.
As Michael sits in the crowded church at his brother’s funeral, the pews fill with family, shady business associates and beautiful women. Suddenly, Michael is distracted by a mysterious message in his Blackberry’s inbox: It’s a photo of Alex sitting behind his desk, and the words, “Life is a dream, and death is waking up.”
At Alex’s wake, Michael is shocked to learn that his own family is in danger. Alex died owing big money to cold-blooded mobsters who will stop at nothing to collect their debts. Their idea of negotiating was a gun below a table, aimed below the belt. Within hours, Michael is drawn into the search for the millions of dollars Alex’s widow is sure Alex had stashed away.
Michael gets another message while he’s standing by Alex’s grave: “What are you doing here?” The pieces start to come together when Skinny Lester, Alex’s right-hand man, tells Michael that just before his death, Alex had installed some very specialized software on his hidden laptop: a program that would allow him to live forever.
Things are never quite what they seem in this page-turning romp through exclusive hotels and expensive restaurants with beautiful, desperate women, tough-guy thugs, cynical cops and devious wiseguys. As Michael crosses the globe to find the people behind his brother’s murder, the bodies start to fall, and the lines between life, death, the spirit, and the Internet blur.
How can Michael avoid his brother’s fate? Just how far beyond death can Alex reach out to help him?