4 out of 4 stars
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Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan follows the lives of the residents of a prestigious apartment building in New York City. The mortgages are high, and often a struggle to pay, but the apartment owners are willing to do what is necessary to maintain their lifestyles in the coveted high rise.
The relationship between George and Hanni Wallace, and their daughter Ayla, and Jack and Sandy Roberts and their daughter Melissa becomes a significant part of the story. The couple's friendship evolves through supporting each other in difficult times. Hanni (whose real name is Hanji) is the most connected with all the others. The residents face multiple challenges to include discontent and job loses, divorce, injuries, sickness, death, embezzlement, accusations - including espionage, inappropriate relationships, and much more. Are they able to survive it all? Are secrets revealed? Who loses their life? How does it all end for the residents living in the prestigious high rise?
The author did an excellent job of creating each character, so the reader feels like he/she knows them personally. Other vital figures to the story are Sheldon, a widower, and somewhat of a recluse who lives in a smaller apartment in the building. He gets pulled into the lives of the others by doing a good deed. Then there is Mildred, a feisty 80-year-old author of romance novels who plays a significant role in the shocking ending of the story. Finegan has a unique writing style. He has a way of weaving back and forth between the characters and their individual lives and dramas, then bringing it all together in the end.
The part I liked most was when several of the characters were accused of espionage and interrogated, evoking subtle humor. For instance, Sheldon, while hospitalized with pneumonia and confused at his surroundings, was questioned about Jack. Jack meanwhile, is being interviewed by a female detective he met on an airplane and attempted to date. She remembered him, but he did not recognize her, which made her very angry. Now she was his interrogator. What I disliked most was the profanity; also, I felt like there was too much switching back and forth of the characters at crucial times in the story. For example, as Alya is in the hospital for cancer treatment and at death's door, there is a switch to another character in the next few chapters leaving the reader in limbo about Alya's outcome.
The book is well-edited, and I found only a few minor errors which did not detract from the story. I found Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan to be an intense, yet sometimes complicated read. I also found the level of profanity used offensive. However, due to the complex and intriguing storyline that kept me guessing, and the minimal number of errors, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would deduct half a point if I could for the strong profanity; however, I did not feel justified in inferring a whole point.
I would recommend this book to anyone 18 or older who enjoys an intriguing story that keeps them guessing to the end. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 18 due to strong language and a couple of intimate scenes, not graphically described but with distinct, underlying innuendos. Anyone who is offended easily by profanity and sexual innuendos probably would not enjoy this book.
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