A killer and his girlfriend go on the run from the FBI in this crime novel.
Arthur McPhee is the owner of a successful wine and spirits business that operates many liquor stores in the Northeast. He lives in the tony enclave of Whispering Hills, Connecticut, a “bed and breakfast town where only the very wealthy could afford to live.” His younger son, Donald, who is gainfully employed in the family business, is getting married, while his older son, Droogan, is practically middle-aged, unemployed, disheveled, overweight, and smokes crack. Arthur is horrified by Droogan’s listlessness, having watched him “flunking out of college and then flunking out of life.” Droogan enters into a romantic entanglement with Angela, one of the household’s black maids. Arthur tries to buy off Angela so that she won’t marry Droogan, and she readily accepts the money. Meanwhile, Arthur’s third wife, Sabrina, harbors a secret hatred of her husband. She enlists Droogan in a plan to kill Arthur for his money, which the son agrees to do because he is so upset about his father trying to pay off Angela. When Droogan accidentally kills the wrong person, he and Angela skip town, attempting to flee to Canada. Pursued by the formidable Agent Roderigo Rojas of the FBI and a mercenary named the Spartan, Droogan slips into a shadowy religious cult, where his problems begin to multiply. Havel (The Orphan of Mecca, 2015, etc.) packs a good deal into his novel, which at first glance may appear to be a simple crime story. Murdering a family member to get his money is an old routine, but the author develops the book’s diverse characters in a layered enough way to give the story more substance than its lighthearted tone would indicate. Themes of interracial or interreligious marriage predominate, from both a black and white perspective. Havel seems interested in whether the American take on group politics is universal and whether crossing lines leads to ruin. As the body count increases, readers learn more about Rojas and some troubled members of the cult, leading to a climax that is a bit far-fetched but still a lot of fun.
Police chases and social commentary come together in this rollicking murder story about an affluent family torn apart by greed, prejudice, and its own foibles.