Wise Men by Stuart Nadler is about the men in the Wise family in the 1950’s. The father, Arthur, was a lawyer and made his reputation on a plane accident. He was an ambulance chaser living poorly in New Haven. He soon moved his family closer to New York in a northern suburb as the money and reputation kept growing with more houses at fancy NYC addresses. Then he bought a second home on the Cape in Bluepoint, which came with a gardener, Lem, a black man. This Bluepoint house was a dream come true for the mother, a retreat for the father, and with a second small house for his law partner, Robert, to live. Lem would spend his days shuttling papers between the two houses because Robert’s house was without a telephone. Lem discovered the secret and kept it safe in a jewel box that his niece, Savannah would give to Hilly during their last encounter with all their children.
The son, Hilly, would come of age here thanks to the tutelage of Lem. There is a girl, Savannah, so named cause she was born there, and her no good father, Charles, who can throw a baseball. She is Lem’s niece; her dead mom was his sister. Hilly takes her foodstuff because of her poverty and he is infatuated with her, always will be. His parents over buy and usually buy label merchandise. Hilly constantly identifies stuff bought by the brand name. By the end of Part I, chaos rules. Lem is jailed and killed in jail. His partner, Robert, beats up Hilly’s father. Hilly and Savannah are dancing around trying to avoid the adults without success.
Part II begins in the fall of 1972 with Hilton Wise, a Boston Spectator reporter of five years visiting Charles Ewing, Savannah’s dad, in Ebbington, Iowa, following a brick thrown through the window of his restaurant, which was across the street from a ball field. Hilly started by covering sports, then got bored so he moved to racial attacks in hopes of finding Savannah, in spite having a girl friend, Jenny, the past two years. Hilly decides to tap into his father’s blood money to help people. When he finally goes home to the Cape and Jenny and his dad another black man, Charles, Savannah’s father dies in an auto accident. Bluepoint is now gated.
Part III finds us in 2008. Hilly has four daughters, his mom and wife of 34 years, Jenny, are dead and the old man has been in a plane crash. He is returning to Bluepoint, where Hilly has taken up residence. It is now cantankerous Arthur, down to earth Robert, and Hilly with his girls, the older three being married. Another death, Robert’s and it all comes down to the truth as presented by a reporter doing a book on Arthur, which is all lies. It’s all about our little secrets and the boxes in which they are kept.