The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ "Everything to Lose"

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ "Everything to Lose"

Hardcover Honey Jocelyn's Book of the Week

"Everything to Lose" by Andrew Gross

Many years ago, when your Hardcover Honey was just a skinny young lass with lots of time to read, she enjoyed the spectacularly entertaining “A Simple Plan” from author Scott Smith, later made into an also entertaining movie with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda (are you impressed that I didn’t even have to IMDB that one?!)

The plot of “A Simple Plan” was, well, simple, with two brothers finding a crashed plane, a dead pilot and a WHOLE lot of money, and their ensuing struggle to keep the money, consequence-free. But as we all know, consequence-free is BORING, and so the brothers struggle with an increasingly tight web of lies that threatens to ensnare them and their families and friends.

The very similarly themed “Everything to Lose” features single mom Hilary Cantor, who has an autistic son with lots of very expensive therapy and schooling needs – and an ex-husband who has stopped paying child support. On her way to her ex’s house one night to plead for some financial help, Hilary sees a one-car accident ahead as a driver swerves to avoid a deer on rain-slicked roads. By the time she makes her way down to the car, the driver has died, and Hilary is shocked to see a duffel full of money on the seat next to him. Stacks upon stacks of hundreds, no less. In the driver’s hand is a phone with a partial text message. Hilary throws the duffel into the woods as another witness comes along, one Rollie McMahon, as he introduces himself. Thinking fast, Hilary gives him a fake name and leaves the scene.  When her ex-husband rejects her request for assistance, she waits a day or two, then returns to the scene of the accident, where she finds the money right where she left it. Where did it come from?  Where was the driver going?  

Author Andrew Gross
Hilary is drawn to the funeral of the driver, a Joe Kelty, who left behind a devoted set of grown children and not much else – it seems the Kelty family and most of their neighborhood have suffered the effects of Hurricane Sandy, are living in a sort of shantytown, and trying to make their own repairs as they wait interminably for the insurance companies and FEMA to do right by them. Hilary’s guilt causes her to make almost immediate contact with Joe’s grown son Patrick Kelty, a police officer who has secrets of his own.

There are interstitial scenes with a mysterious man nicknamed “Streak” and his horrific crimes – how does he tie in? Who is he to these characters? And how much does Hilary’s son Brandon have in common with him?

This was an incredibly fast read; I read it in nearly one go. The action scenes were action-y enough, the dialogue well-done, the characters competently drawn.  I was interested in seeing who was chasing the money and why. But ultimately for me, this felt like the kind of book you buy at the airport, read on your flight, and never remember again. I definitely appreciated the nod to the people who endured Hurricane Sandy, and I like a plucky single mom as much as the next girl, but this did not have enough going for it for me to recommend it whole-heartedly. On the other hand, if you’re flying from Baltimore to Vegas next week and you want something to hold your attention, you could definitely do worse!

Hardcover Honey Verdict - 3 out of 5 illicit bags of money for this title – a very fast read, but one you may not remember a few months down the road.