A young man set to inherit his dead father’s fortune runs into a charismatic drifter on a cross-country trip in this thriller from Maffei (And of the Holy Ghost, 2010, etc.).
Days away from his 25th birthday and the receipt of his delayed but sizable inheritance, Nick Bennett dumps his gold-digger girlfriend and heads west to California. Nick runs over a turtle and winds up in a ditch. A stranger named Henry appears on the scene—he may have caused the accident—and helps Nick get his car back on the road. Henry is charming and capable, a jack-of-all-trades at home on the open road. The two get along like old friends, and, ignoring a series of unsettling episodes, Nick brings Henry to his father’s house. There the two meet Bunny, a black documentary filmmaker who is working on a project about Nick’s writer father. Nick and Bunny woo each other awkwardly, but Henry turns out to be more devious and dangerous than Nick has allowed himself to understand, and the final pages are a kaleidoscope of violence, betrayal, epiphany and murder. The pages fly once we meet Henry, a thoroughly creepy villain whose intelligence and menace push the story in consistently unpredictable directions. Henry pontificates, giving out commandments, using his charm and the force of his personality to get what he wants from everyone he meets—everything readers could want in a psychological thriller’s bad guy. But the book does have some issues—Nick’s speech patterns change suddenly and without reason or comment, the female characters are mostly sex objects and when Nick and Henry have their reckoning, Nick’s reliance on and devotion to Henry becomes more complex but also strains believability. And Bunny’s thread contains disturbing racial content that could offend many readers.
A gripping thriller with as many twists and turns as a cross-country road trip.