This first novel from storyteller Kardos (One Last Good Time, 2010) leads three ordinary guys into a dark wood and turns the screws on them.
Will Walker, ex-drummer and recording studio engineer, is trying to put away a little money for the child he and his wife, Cynthia, would like to have. And he’d like to raise funds to launch an indie label, Long-Shot Records. So he asks his Princeton buddies, attorney Evan Wolff, dot-com millionaire Jeffrey Hocks and Kansas City Senate-hopeful Nolan Albright, to forgo the usual glamorous destinations for their annual golf reunions and come instead to his town in New Jersey. The results are different, all right, but not in the way he intended. After Evan’s begged off till the following morning, the other three drive to a Milk-n-Bread, where Will and Nolan wait outside till Jeffrey, whose stomach has been killing him, emerges not with antacids, but with the cashier in tow, pushes her into the car and demands that Will drive off. The tale that emerges is both incredible—Jeffrey, who’d lost all his money when the bubble burst, saw a chance to clean out the store’s cash register, then decided he had to grab the cashier to prevent her from identifying him to the police—and impossible to resolve. No matter what they do now, all three buddies are already parties to robbery and kidnapping, and the only way they can see to cover their tracks is to take unimaginably irreversible measures. As they wrack their brains to come up with a way out of this mess, the odds of a fatal mischance keep rising. What if they’re spotted by a neighborhood panhandler? Or by Will’s boss? And what if they turn on each other?
An agonizing moral nightmare interspersed with flashbacks to happier times whose import becomes clear only in the final chapter.