A blackmailer tenaciously hounds a businessman with evidence of his supposed infidelity—and a much worse transgression—in this thriller.
Davis Briggs isn’t the best salesman. He and his friend Todd have confidence in the software Davis wrote, but their startup company continues to struggle. On another fruitless business trip in Los Angeles, Davis meets and drinks with Justin Reed, a flashy guy who professes he earns a living by making sure people have a good time. Davis later awakens in a hotel room, remembering nothing but aware he’s lost an entire day. He soon discovers a $5,000 charge on his personal credit card linked to JRFUNINC. He returns to his wife, Hattie, and daughters in Oregon and tries ignoring Justin’s texts insisting Davis owes him. Davis claims his credit cards were stolen to explain the unusual charges on his personal and business accounts, but Justin has only just started. His demands for payment escalate, coupled with a bevy of photos showcasing Davis in compromising positions with women he can’t recall. But the most incriminating picture is one in which it appears Davis has murdered someone. Justin crops up in Oregon, where he makes direct threats against Davis’ family. The culprit’s increasingly hostile behavior fuels Davis’ desperation and, if not impeded, could soon turn deadly. As in McCrary’s (Steady Madness, 2018, etc.) preceding novels, the plot begins unfolding almost immediately. Both the hapless protagonist and his grievous situation are believable as he tries to remedy what at first seems like a relatively small problem. Of course, it easily and quickly spirals beyond Davis’ control, and it’s the simplicity of Justin’s plan that makes the book truly unnerving. Tension is amped up by Davis’ understandable paranoia, seeing Justin in various places even when he isn’t there. It adds up to a fairly gloomy tale, particularly as Davis’ quiet despair slowly splinters his relationship with Hattie. But the story’s impact is indisputable: The protagonist reacts to the pressure physically, with endless churning guts and “a heaviness in his chest” as his subconscious starts “working him over.”
A grim, invigorating, and thoroughly gripping crime tale.