After his wife is kidnapped, a bank manager endures the torturous twists of love and greed in this cluttered but suspenseful thriller.
Beautiful wife, swank home in an affluent Southern California suburb, high-level banking job—that’s Eric Mathews. But his job doesn’t pay nearly enough to afford the $2 million ransom after professional criminals abduct his wife, Michelle, with the threat to kill her within twelve hours if he doesn’t pay up. What appears to be a straightforward kidnapping tale becomes a tangled knot of subplots and potential red herrings—a wife cheating on her billionaire husband, an unexplained dead body—that sets up a multitude of surprises. Despite a gruesome early chapter that reads like an episode of 24, the story is slow to kick into gear due to the narrative’s extensive descriptions of ordinary actions that set the scene but do little else. Yet readers who pass this over may miss well-drawn visceral details, such as the sound of a finger being forcibly dislocated or the wrenching physicality of fear. About the time the pacing picks up, the confusing strands of subplot begin to weave together, creating a web of betrayals and double crosses, as Eric races to gather the ransom with the help of an old college friend, who harbors his own secrets. Once the police get involved, the story takes on more logic and form, and readers will finally find themselves immersed in detective work. The characters—from the disillusioned billionaire to the flirtatious detective to the thug who kills with aplomb yet has heart enough to help out a single-mother waitress—are believable, distinct and mostly amoral. Crime isn’t supposed to pay this well.
Slow to start, but the hooks set in with ample suspense and surprise.