By Ekta R. Garg
February 22, 2018
Release date: January 30, 2018
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A man who needs money desperately for his dying wife receives an unbelievable offer. Someone is willing to give him all the funds. All he has to do is kill a person. The man must grapple with the ultimate struggle of conscience: save his wife or keep his morality intact. Author Tom Hunt presents an interesting question in an entertaining, albeit somewhat predictable, plot in his debut novel Killer Choice.
Gary Foster and his wife, Beth, cling to one another with that old-world brand of love, the kind where two people meet at a young age and stay together forever. The only expression of love they haven’t shared yet is a baby. Finally, after ages, that dream is also going to come true. Beth is seven months along in her pregnancy with their first child, a baby boy they can’t wait to meet.
Life gets tossed in an unpredictable direction, however, when Beth collapses while shopping. Passersby help her to the ER where doctors begin conducting tests. Within days, Gary and Beth get the news: Beth has a malignant and aggressive brain tumor. The prognosis says she has less than a year to live.
Their physician tells them about a new experimental treatment that has shown some promise. A doctor in Germany is ready to accept Beth as a patient if Beth and Gary can move to Europe for the duration of the treatment. The total cost is $200,000. Insurance won’t cover any of it.
The amount almost crushes Gary’s spirit. Less than a year earlier, he and his brother, Rod, opened their own store and struggle to stay in business. Thanks to budget cuts, Beth lost her full-time job as an art teacher and now works the odd day as a substitute. Money had already become a precious commodity. Now it’s all Gary and Beth can think about.
It seems like a godsend, then, when Gary receives a call from a mysterious man who calls himself Shamrock. A spate of PR drummed up by community service organizations has put Gary and Beth’s story in the media. Shamrock has heard about their financial need and can donate the entire amount. All he asks is one favor: Gary needs to kill a man handpicked by Shamrock. Without asking any questions.
Gary didn’t think anything could shock him after Beth’s diagnosis. He was wrong. He’s never acted in a violent manner, never mind killing someone. If he doesn’t commit this heinous crime, Beth will definitely die. If he goes through with the horrific act, Beth gets an honest-to-goodness chance to live but he’ll spend the rest of his life knowing he murdered someone. As Beth’s condition continues to deteriorate, Gary knows he’ll have to make a decision soon.
Author Tom Hunt gives readers a pretty straightforward novel. Many readers will spot the supposed twists in the story, and Hunt depends heavily on stereotypical devices to advance the plot. For example, when Gary comes home from meeting Shamrock determined to turn down the money because of the strings attached, Beth’s health suddenly gets worse. Hunt puts the story close to Detroit to make it impossible for Gary to find a different way to fund Beth’s treatment. Shamrock needs someone killed because of a drug deal gone bad.
Despite the stereotypes that would induce groans in a different book, Hunt’s simplistic approach also composes its strength. Even as readers guess accurately what will happen, Hunt’s audacity to follow through on those guesses will keep readers swiping or flipping pages. The thrill comes, then, not from the actual premise Hunt proposes but by what comes after the main conflict comes to pass.
In that way, too, the book falls squarely into its genre. Most thrillers offer a series of highs, each more heady than the last, and Hunt doesn’t disappoint in this factor. I recommend readers Bookmark Killer Choice by Tom Hunt.