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‘Shovel Ready’ by Adam Sternbergh

In his debut novel, Adam Sternbergh pits a garbage collector turned hitman against the corrupt megarich.
In his debut novel, Adam Sternbergh pits a garbage collector turned hitman against the corrupt megarich.Marvin Orellana

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Has anything provided more fodder for American authors and filmmakers than the time-honored tradition of ripping apart New York City and exploring its rotten, zeitgeisty innards?

It’s a thriving subgenre, especially in the post-9/11 years, as anxieties over terrorism have collided with longstanding worries about crime on the one hand and creeping homogeneity and hyper-gentrification on the other. Wonderful recent novels like “Super Sad True Love Story” have forced their characters to maneuver near-future versions of a city collapsing under the weight of its own failings. But in “Shovel Ready,” the debut novel from New York Times Magazine culture editor Adam Sternbergh, the collapse has already occurred. Sternbergh’s noir thriller strikes out at many targets and mostly connects, even if it is occasionally hindered by certain sci-fi elements that are served up merely lukewarm

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