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The future looks bright for John and Ruby. John's business is growing, and they're talking about starting a family. But when Ruby receives a life-changing diagnosis, and insurance won't cover the treatment, John steals a customer's identity and files a false claim. The plan works perfectly - until the customer in question contacts John with a startling proposition. If John and Ruby play a little game he's devised, he won't report their fraud. The rules are simple: commit real crimes. But if they fail, there will be deadly consequences. With each round, the crimes get more twisted. John and Ruby can't disappear - and they can't go to the police. Their only option is to keep playing, while trying to outwit a psychopath who has no intention of letting them leave this game alive.
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Daniel Palmer spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer helping to build first generation websites for Barnes & Noble and other popular brands. An experienced musician and songwriter, Daniel has recorded two CDs and licensed his songs for commercial use. Daniel's co-written two short stories for the trade organization International Thriller Writers. He holds a master's degree in mass communications from Boston University, and currently resides in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.
A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot's career spans four decades. Highlights include feature roles in Caddyshack and Showtime's Brotherhood, and appearances on America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. His voice can be heard on television, radio, video games, documentaries and industrials. Peter has recorded a number of audiobooks, including three by Peter Hessler. Other favorite titles include The Wood; English, August; The Fifth Vial; American Brutus; Better; and Some Sort of Epic Grandeur.
When John Bodine’s wife, Ruby, is diagnosed with cancer and their medical insurance won’t cover the drug she needs to save her life, John does what you or I probably wouldn’t do. He steals someone else’s identity and files a fraudulent claim with another insurance company. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Palmer establishes that John operates an online computer game and that he sifts through his subscriber files to find a suitable identity to borrow for a while. But he doesn’t count on the unwitting identity donor finding out, tracking him down, and threatening to kill people unless John plays along with his sick, twisted game, in which John is required to do increasingly illegal things. Someone like Gregg Hurwitz or Linwood Barclay would have hit this one out of the park, but as it stands, the book is more like a ground-rule double—solid contact but not quite enough oomph to reach the fence. Helping hold it back is John’s plan to extricate his wife from one of his tormenter’s games, which, frankly, is so “oh give me a break!” implausible that it almost deserves to fail miserably. There is one pretty nifty plot twist about three-quarters of the way into the book, but by then we’re starting to grow tired of John and Ruby and their plight—they are committing major insurance fraud, after all—and by the tormenter’s increasingly unbelievable cat-and-mouse game. Definitely weaker than the author’s excellent debut, Delirious (2011), and about on par with its weaker follow-up, Helpless (2012). --David Pitt
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