The Frenzy and the Grievance are both narrated by Murray Schenps, a retired I.R.S investigator who’s heavily medicated, and, at times, paranoid. When the Frenzy opens, America is getting ready to invade Iraq, and people in New York are still jittery from 9/11. Coming home from his job as a security guard early one morning, Murray spots a group of naked people in Chelsea dancing around an open drum. He’s disturbed by this (are the people drugged, sick? Is the air poisoned?), and goes from trying to investigate what’s going on (as well as checking out a similar event in the West Village, where two naked men were killed in the street) to writing a book about what he’s seen and found out. Doing the book (where he makes the leader of the group a possible terrorist) he enlists the aid of a female investigator from the Board of Health, and continually argues with a female reporter from The New York Post, who is also writing about both problems—leading to terrible consequences for Murray and both women.
The Grievance opens nearly three years later—right after Abu Ghraib revelations. Murray is now teaching writing in New York, having published his book about what happened earlier, but made little money from it. He’s still angry at Marlene Ward, The New York Post reporter, and eventually tries to pay her back for thing she did to ruin his possible career as a writer. When a student submits a manuscript about killing Iraqi prisoners at a black site in New Jersey, Murray tries to find out if it’s the truth and not get killed in the process. This leads to confrontations with the soldier’s uncle, and Marlene Ward—who gets wind in the story. Again, problems are solved by violence, the grievances that Murray, Paul Jones, and his superiors as well as Jones’s uncle have, being resolved in deadly ways.