In this debut novel, a disgruntled war veteran embezzles millions from his employer and finds himself in far more trouble than he bargained for.
Jake Foster’s life has seen better days: Three years ago his wife, Arlene, suddenly left him, and he’s haunted by the grim remembrances of his military service in Afghanistan. To make matters worse, the only thing he loathes more than his job as manager of logistics for Global Source Enterprises in Miami is his employer, the oily Malcolm Weaver, who may be a pederast, a peculiar detail in Steele’s story. Jake decides he is uniquely positioned to embezzle millions of dollars from the company and retire to a life of leisure, but a co-worker—José Colón, the warehouse manager—detects his scheme and blackmails him for ever increasing sums of money in order to pay off gambling debts. In addition, Sharon Scott, the company’s auditor, discovers the theft but refrains from turning Jake in, partly because she’s becoming romantically attached to him and partly because she used to run precisely these kinds of cons herself before attempting to go straight. Jake and Sharon become partners and pilfer more than $3 million. But when the crime is brought to Malcolm’s attention, not only are the two culprits in danger, but also Sharon’s sister, Rachel, a helplessly vulnerable drug addict. Jake and Sharon plot to change their identities and skip town together, but they’re pursued by someone who isn't bound by the law, a troubling fact suggested by José’s brutal murder. Steele is never stingy with either crackling action or plot twists—the story maintains a breathless pace from beginning to end. While the prose lacks any literary flair and can be unspectacularly anodyne, it’s consistently clear, as is the plot as a whole. What the story lacks is credibility—the plot is as improbable as the characters who enact it. Sharon and Malcolm, in particular, are comic book–style caricatures—conveniently typecast in order to propel the tale but bereft of any real depth.
This thriller’s relentless pace almost compensates for its implausibility.