Bryce Harriman is a veteran reporter for the New York Post and longtime rival of the late Bill Smithback, dating back to Harriman's initial tenure at the New York Times.
Tall and slender, with short sandy hair and a prominent chin cleft, Harriman comes from an old-money family faced with a fading fortune. He is invariably clad in Brooks Brothers suits complete with repp tie, loafers and horn-rimmed glasses, and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a converted pre-war building at East 72nd and Madison, which is rent-stabilized under his aunt's name and littered with an eclectic variety of cast-off furniture inherited from departed elderly relations.
Harriman attended Choate Rosemary Hall preparatory school and Dartmouth College, after which he graduated from Columbia journalism school and, using his family name and connections, went to work for the Times.
Harriman began dating Shannon Croix in college. She was later diagnosed with uterine cancer and died three years prior to the events of City of Endless Night.
Harriman was devastated by her loss and devoted much of his time to cancer awareness, writing articles about possible new cures and giving a lot of visibility to various nonprofit cancer prevention groups, making a variety of donations to various cancer causes, and starting the Shannon Croix Foundation, a very successful charitable fund that—with the help of the Post—has managed to raise several million dollars since its creation.
After working his way up to the city desk at the Times, Harriman suddenly found himself competing with Smithback, then a crime correspondent for the New York Post. After their competing coverage of the Subway Murders, the journalists actually switched desks; Harriman was dismissed by the Times after an early disproven article suggesting a second Mbwun was on the loose, while Smithback parlayed his firsthand account of the subsequent "Take Back the City" riots into a bestselling book and Harriman's old job.
First New York Post Term
When Harriman later took over the Post's crime desk, he and Smithback battled for story angles and scoops through some of New York City's more infamous serial killings, including the Surgeon murders and the devil killings. Eventually, Harriman's interviews with a doomsday scientist and a charismatic end-of-days preacher helped the preacher assemble a large tent city of followers along the southeastern edge of Central Park. Harriman's continued exclusive coverage of the reverend and his followers—and the NYPD's attempts to break up the gathering—earned his way back onto the staff at the Times, all while Smithback was out of the country honeymooning.
Second New York Times Tenure
Now colleagues at the Times, Harriman and Smithback's competition became more heated than ever, with Harriman taking a strong early lead—largely due to Special Agent Pendergast kidnapping Smithback and admitting him to the River Oaks mental hospital under an assumed name to keep the reporter safe from Pendergast's brother, Diogenes. Smithback, however, returned from his temporary institutionalization in time to not only majorly scoop Harriman about the particulars of the Museum Diamond Heist, but to take an active role in Pendergast's investigation.
Their rivalry came to an abrupt end that October, when Smithback was brutally murdered in his Upper West Side apartment. Harriman, who was at the tail end of his second stint at the Times, referred to Smithback as his "good friend" while asking about the investigation's progress during a press conference held by Vincent D'Agosta.
Return to the Post
At some point following Smithback's death, Harriman returned to the New York Post, seemingly grateful for the relaxed atmosphere, particularly after realizing it did nothing to hurt his social stature among his upper crust peers. It was during this second run with the Post that Shannon Croix died, and the Post helped spread the word of the foundation Harriman created in her name.
When the first victim of The Decapitator killings was identified as Grace Ozmian, daughter of tech mogul Anton Ozmian, Harriman sought out Anton's second ex-wife Izolda, who portrayed her former stepdaughter in a most unflattering light, including drug issues and a cover-up involving a hit-and-run in Beverly Hills—with a highly intoxicated Grace behind the wheel—that resulted in the death of an eight-year-old boy. Harriman published the story, drawing the ire of Anton Ozmian.
After two more victims were found, Harriman published an article, notoriously titled "The Decapitator Revealed," that drew a connection between the three targets as corrupt immoral predatory one-percenters, and painting the Decapitator as the moral compass, an avenging angel of the ninety-nine percent. The public ate it up, and it earned Harriman not only high praise from the higher-ups at the Post, but a bump in salary as well. By the time two more victims were found—mortgage scammers who targeted spouses of soldiers and retired vets—Harriman had become a full-blown tabloid celebrity.
His star crashed back to earth quickly, however, when the sixth victim was a Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctor, a beloved Nigerian ambassador who was killed at the United Nations after giving an impassioned plea for the world to come together to eradicate HIV/AIDS. To make matters worse, Anton Ozmian had requested a meeting, where he threatened to blackmail Harriman to write a puff piece about Grace, using fabricated evidence created by his staff of programmers to make it appear as if Harriman had stolen over a million dollars from the Shannon Croix Foundation.
A desperate and angry Harriman set out to dig up dirt on Anton Ozmian, ultimately finding a thirty-year-old arrest in Dedham, Massachusetts, where Ozmian grew up. Harriman traveled to the Boston suburb, finding an eyewitness, who revealed the "destruction of property" was actually a brutal near-fatal assault on a Catholic priest (with a crucifix, no less) in the middle of mass that left the priest unable to walk or talk normally for months. A sizable sum of money had been donated to the local parish by Ozmian's family, seemingly to keep the criminal charge minimal.
Harriman returned to New York and confronted Ozmian with his new information, and Ozmian agreed to return the funds to the Foundation and make it look like a simple bank error if Harriman handed over the affidavit of the eyewitness and promised not to publish anything about the assault. Harriman agreed and left Ozmian's office, only to receive a call from Rosalie Everett, one of Shannon's best friends and a board member of the Foundation, saying she had just received a large number of financial documents showing that all of the foundation's assets had been transferred to a private offshore account in Harriman's name. Ozmian had obviously reneged on his promise, and Harriman promptly received a text message from Ozmian confirming he had done just that, and explaining that the priest had serially raped Ozmian when he was an altar boy, and the assault to make sure the priest never abused one of his charges again. The message ended with a "P.S. Enjoy prison" just before it disappeared from his phone.
Harriman was arrested and his lawyer did little but review all of the evidence Ozmian's team had fabricated against him, a paper trail that included records of Harriman opening the Cayman Islands account where the money had been transferred, video of him entering the bank, records of him transferring the funds, and even a one-way plane ticket out of the country.
After the killer was taken into custody, Harriman was released and returned to the Post with egg on his face for being so off the mark on the Decapitator's motives.
- His second stint at the Times is seemingly ignored in City of Endless Night, which claims he had spent the previous ten years at the Post