Burning Down the House: A novel
The Zanes are among New York City’s most powerful families, with a real estate empire and business tentacles that reach far and wide. Seemingly invincible, Steve Zane, the patriarch, along with his protégés, do what they want with little fear of repercussions. Though Steve himself attempts to abide by his version of a moral compass, his son Jonathan has other, more ruthless inclinations. Frustrated by his father’s lack of faith in him, he takes matters into his own hands, stopping at nothing to inch closer to power. When a shocking family secret comes to light, resulting in the total breakdown of a young Zane niece named Poppy, the Zanes will be forced to reckon with the dark side of wealth — the greed and ambition that give way to a boundless capacity for evil.
Thanks to Mendelsohn’s detailed descriptions of the Zanes’ corrupt, decadent world, schadenfreude is inevitable when the Zanes ultimately — and dramatically — pay their dues. But Poppy’s descent into the terrible world of sex trafficking, a subject that Mendelsohn handles with suitable fury, is nothing short of heartbreaking. Her series of escalating bad decisions makes for tense, suspenseful reading.