My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the Adrian Lyne-directed 1993 film Indecent Proposal starring Robert Redford, (the gorgeous) Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson, the tender meat of the juicy plot revolves around a financially strapped couple—David and Diana Murphy, portrayed by Harrelson and Moore, respectively—who journey to Las Vegas on a huge gamble hoping to turn their meager savings into a windfall of pecuniary abundance (for the sake of financing David’s dream real estate enterprise) at one of Sin City’s many roulette tables. But unfortunately for them, they bet and lose . . . everything. Their savings have grown wings and quickly flown away from the couple’s joint grasp. And this, of course, leaves the high school sweethearts devastated. Just like that, the money is gone. And the couple—so madly in love—have nothing left to do but ponder. What are they going to do now that they’re flat broke? What will become of them now? How are they going to survive with no money?
Enter Redford’s billionaire “John Gage” who is sent—like a puff of smoke—out of nowhere into the couple’s personal space to make them one simple offer that both David and Diana will find it difficult to refuse. Lustfully attracted to the pretty brunette Diana (and knowing that the Murphy’s are now penniless), John Gage extends the following proposal to Diana: ‘I would pay one million dollars to have sex with you.’ And to David, the debonair billionaire would ask the question, ‘Excuse me. Would you mind lending me your wife?’
Already at the brink of desperation, David and Diana begin to strongly mull over Gage’s tempting proffer. Tempting because one million dollars is an awful lot of money and exactly what the pair need to solution their currency woes.
But do they accept the proposal? Does David Murphy allow the stranger—Gage—a one-night stand with the beautiful love of his life for a mere one million dollars?
If you’ve seen the movie then you know the answer.
Hard decisions are called just that because they don’t present themselves as being easy to make. Whereas the hard decision that had to be made by David Murphy in the classic film, what selling his wife to a complete stranger in exchange for a ridiculously large sum of cash to fend off financial ruin, the hard decision facing Gary Foster, star of the gritty crime and suspense thriller Killer Choice, is two hundred thousand times worse . . . because this hard decision involves not leasing the intimate parts of his wife, Beth, to a complete stranger for money, but rather, committing cold-blooded murder on behalf of a complete stranger for money in order to salvage Beth’s life.
In the fictive and economically-TKO’d River Falls, Michigan (a stone’s throw from Detroit), the temperature—atomospherically- and spiritually-speaking—has dipped to a teeth chattering cold. And it is in the heart of this fiction’s make-believe setting that we come to meet a small company of players around each of whom this thoroughly emotional and morally debased narrative orbits.
The Day Old Scratch Arrived.
Gary Foster is the co-owner of Ascension Outerwear, a local retailer specialized in clothing and gear for the outdoor sportsman. And all is pretty much satisfactory in Gary Foster’s working class life until he receives a call at the store informing him that his eight-months-pregnant wife, Beth, collapsed at the town mall and was taken to the hospital for observation. After a few tests, it is soon revealed that Beth has been stricken with a brain tumor, particularly a malignant growth of tissue classified as an inoperable glabistoma. Evidently traumatized by this prognosis, Gary and Beth are forced to realize their new reality—one that browbeats the coosome twosome down into a spiral of perplexity and discouragement. And since nearly everyone in their hometown has fallen on financial hard times, donations to the Foster’s new Go Fund Me page barely nudge the site’s thermometer stick. This is not good news for Gary and Beth, as the arrogance of time is now starting to jeer at the despair of their circumstances.
Hope for Beth’s survival is dependent upon a special method of cancer treatment at a German-based company called GOSKA, but the combined cost of travel, lodging, and treatment could set Gary and Beth back $200,000.00 that the two don’t have and couldn’t possibly raise—not even if they sold everything they own which is little or next to nothing.
Time is running out for the madly in love, albeit desolate couple. And no one—outside of themselves, Rod (Gary’s younger brother), and Rod’s yoga instructor wife, Sarah—is more aware of this fact than an evildoing drug dealer and pawn shop owner named Otto Brennan, a complete stranger to the Foster family. Otto just so happens to have $200,000.00 in cash laying around. And after seeing the Go Fund Me page for Beth on the Internet, accompanied by a short press article detailing her heartbreaking dilemma, the lamentable Otto—himself being incessantly pursued by the Angel of Death—brainstorms an idea. He contacts Gary Foster and makes the despondent husband an offer he is almost certain Gary will find quite arduous to refuse, and the two outsiders schedule a secluded meeting.
Strangers on a Park Bench.
On the day of the meeting, the hardcore and homicidal Otto—using the alias, “Shamrock”—offers to give Gary Foster $200,000.00 in cash—the entire amount needed for the treatment (and possible cure) of Beth’s glabistoma. But the off-guard proposal sounds too virtuous to be realistic, inducing Gary to ask a series of questions. And Otto, smelling the damp funk of a prospective sucker emitting from the pulse points of the fraught Gary Foster, wastes no time fanning out his term conditions. Showing his probable mark the photocopied driver’s license of a mysterious man named Devon Peterson, Otto mouths a loaded spiel to Gary about the same. In brief, Devon Peterson is a corrupt police officer issued out from the irritable bowels of Detroit to shakedown and bust the testicles of scum subjects like Otto in River Falls. Devon Peterson, according to Otto’s witness, is as unprincipled as they come, and the world would definitely be a much better place minus him. Otto wants Devon Peterson dead, period. And if Gary Foster wants to earn a quick $200,000.00 to aid in saving his law-abiding—not to mention pregnant—wife’s promising life, then all he would have to do is kill Devon Peterson. Gary Foster is given three days to decide.
It’s murder-for-hire, simple as that. But no way is good old Gary Foster a murderer. Gary loves his high school sweetheart who is his expectant wife, Beth, but murder? He wants to save his best friend of a wife alive, but murder? He couldn’t imagine life without his one and only Beth, but murder? He could never, ever make it without Beth, but murder? Maybe it’s true what the guy “Shamrock” said, right? Maybe this Devon Peterson guy is a ruthless dirt bag polluting the Earth, right? But he’s a cop, and you can’t kill a cop, right? Two-hundred thousand dollars! It’s all the money you need! Right? Whose life is more valuable anyway? Huh? Certainly Beth’s . . . and not some abusive, filthy cop’s! Right?
Here is what happens when a simple man lacks faith. The powerful winds of temptation will surely come along to beat upon his house . . . and beat upon his house . . . until his entire being is laid waste.
A Soul for Sale.
Fearing that he and Beth will never raise the monies needed for her treatment abroad, Gary Foster does the unthinkable. He agrees to murder the racist, unethical, and disgustingly corrupt Devon Peterson. And once that laborious choice is made and carried out, Gary Foster will by no means be able to turn back from it. Gary Foster will by no means be able to shake off the repulsive terrors that soon ease themselves up right alongside of him, persuading him to stoop down to a level he would never have presumed feasible. Once an easy-going and quiet fella, his novice horror is now underway, unbeknownst to those of his loved ones. And trying to outrun a growing set of cruel and bloodthirsty malefactors will be the least of Gary Foster’s problems. As it turns out, that tumor on Beth’s brain is growing . . . at a velocity more expeditious than the apprehension of this hard-bitten work’s pulse-pounding storyline.
The Top-Billed Personae.
Soaking together in a literary marinade of human blood, human skin tissue, distress, drug infestation, newfound destitution, calamity, hopelessness, self-abhorrence and criminality, the dialogue’s sensational ensemble—admirably cast by Mr. Tom Hunt, their Liertary award-worthy creator—are credited in succession:
• Gary Foster, our thirty-nine-year-old leading man and co-owner of Ascension Outerwear
• Rod Foster, Gary’s thirty-four-year-old beloved brother, best friend, and co-owner of Ascension Outerwear
• Beth Foster, a substitute teacher and Gary’s pregnant wife who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer
• Sarah Foster, a yoga studio owner, Rod’s new wife of six months, and Beth’s best friend
• Robert “Champ” Smith, a retired heavyweight boxer and nefarious, bone-breaking associate of Otto Brennan
• Carlos, twenty-something drug runner in the trade of “Mexican Mud,” Otto Brennan’s go-between, and patriotic member of the ruthless Señor De LaFuente’s chainsaw murdering El Este cartel
• Scotty, drug dealer, tattoo shop owner, contemptible liar, and underhanded snitch
• Detective Whitley, relentless veteran homicide detective investigating the cold-blooded murder of the notorious Devon Peterson
With silky sheer skill, this talented troupe interact through the enthralling plot of yet another hard-to-put-down magnum opus in the immutable Thriller genre, not missing even one iota of a beat throughout its course.
Killer Choice is an intense, emotional, and altogether suspenseful tale about how just one ill-advised resolution could destroy a person’s life, even for a perpetuity. And I could not imagine any reader of this icy plot not being prompted to repeatedly say, ‘Oh, my God,’ ‘Oh, my God,’ as they quickly flip through adroitly written pages that easily provoke an on-the-edge-of-your-seat consternation reminiscent of that in Grisham’s masterwork, The Firm. For indeed, Killer Choice is a harrowing crime thriller that introduces the reader to a compact, however memorable selection of players who will not only command your interest, but also brazenly emboss your subconscious, leaving a troubling imprint that will continue to linger long after the final page bids adieu.
Perfectly titled, Killer Choice is in unison a challenge to read and even more of one to part ways with. As a crime and suspense thriller enthusiast, I wholly enjoyed this fictional creation, and would very well recommend it to those readers cut from the same interest cloth.
My Closing Statement.
Much like the motion picture to which it has been compared, Killer Choice is an enticing novel about rash decisions that people are sometimes forced to make in their lives. And more often than not, such decisions—which are never wisely advised, mind you—tend to lead those persons into various entrapments from which they can locate no means of escape because of the crippling bondages of fear and faithlessness. Fear and faithlessness are the two sinister culprits that casually steer men straight into the barbarous arms of self-destruction, which endeavor to squeeze the lives out of many because of their unbelief.
Choice. It is the thing that every human being alive has been given, liberally, due to free will. The choices we make undoubtedly affect our lives, whether negatively or positively. And ill-made choices tend to beget grave repercussions. So, under such circumstances, it would be well for one to contemplate and select carefully, as the autonomy of free will is based in one ancient option: Good or evil?
. . .There is no in-between.
In the splendid work of fiction presently under critique, Tom Hunt, its awe-inspiring author, refers to said quandary in such intricately carved detail, that the reader will feel as though he or she has been planted right there in the otherworldly setting of Gary Foster’s menacing and diabolcal nightmare. And that, my fellow members of the literary community, accounts for superior storytelling.
Five . . . mare’s nest stars.
• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Berkley Books, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced review copy (ARC) of Killer Choice in exchange for my honest review.
Analysis of Killer Choice by Tom Hunt is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com
Date of Review: Sunday, January 28, 2018