In Keil’s (Dear Dad, 2016, etc.) thriller, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Shawn Shaw is sent by billionaire James Berk to find Chuti Tiu—the smartest person on Earth—ostensibly to offer her a $50 million prize; but things are not what they seem.
Berk, trustee of The Destiny Foundation, a mysterious group rumored to have operated in secret for hundreds of years, first approaches Shaw at Parnell’s Pub in Midtown Manhattan. After Shaw hesitates, Berk eventually blackmails him and the pub’s barkeep, Paddy, into searching for Tiu. Assisting them is Shaw’s research assistant, Emma Jarvis, a bipolar woman with unique talents, and Paddy’s wife, Kathleen, a nurse with skills of her own. The pair heads to Las Vegas, where Tiu is purportedly a prostitute, one of the many “facts” that don’t add up. Armed with Berk’s money and a pair of technically advanced phones he provides, the two set up an elaborate subterfuge in Vegas: Paddy plays high-stakes baccarat, and Shaw questions hookers in order to draw out Tiu. Keil injects just the right touch of noir with hard-drinking Shaw’s medium-boiled narration: “It all started only four weeks ago. I’m at my usual bar stool, third from the end, killing time and hoping for inspiration.” The hunt for Tiu in Vegas proves frustrating, but they learn more about Berk’s intentions. Back in New York, Tiu appears at Paddy’s bar disguised as a homeless woman just as Berk leaves after questioning Shaw and Paddy. They now discover, among other things, there is a relationship between Emma and Tiu, confirming one of their initial suspicions. From this point, the plot bubbles and thickens to a mysterious brew. A high-stakes, action-packed conclusion starts a full 100 pages before the end and involves physical and cybermayhem, botched surgery, lobotomy, rape, death, and taxes. Throughout, Keil’s spot-on characterization and skillful juggling of plot developments render the wildest bombshells logical and completely credible.
A smart, witty, captivating thrillfest packed with suspense, surprise, and awesome technology.