An ordinary life is turned upside down in this exploration of an impulse gone wildly wrong.
Elaine Kelly, an attractive redhead stuck in a dead-end job as a bank teller, lives with her elderly, disabled mother in Queens, New York. Nothing exciting ever happens to her until the day one of her regular customers, an elderly man named Antonio Desirio, dies in an accident after having made a deposit. Elaine has long been curious about Desirio, a shabby dresser who obviously doesn’t take care of himself but has more than $1 million in his savings account. When he's hit by a truck and killed, she impetuously transfers $1.3 million from Desirio’s account to her own. Shocked, panicked and a little thrilled at her own audacity, she knows she has only a short time to flee before bank officials catch on. Elaine makes plans to grab the cash and leave the country, but then her mother dies and she has to stick around a bit. A series of unexpected events threatens to derail her escape: The state freezes Desirio’s bank accounts, a handsome police detective named Nussbaum starts asking questions, and a man claiming to be Antonio Desirio comes into the bank and tries to liquidate his funds. Afraid of being caught and with time snapping at her heels, Elaine decides to run but soon finds there are many barriers standing in her way, and most of them are very dangerous. Although Stone attempts to set up a logical reason for her protagonist to make such a foolish move and then dangle clues in front of the case detective, Elaine's decisions never seem to gel with her predicament, and her incessant contemplation of her actions slows the plot. Less self-examination and more action would have made for a better book.
Stone’s excellent writing triumphs over the novel’s weaknesses.