Four men find their identities, ethics, and friendships tested in this high-stakes thriller.
George has finally stopped feeling like a nobody. When he's accepted to the University of Kansas Law School Class of 1989, he jubilantly calls his parents—only to be reminded that they still see him as a shadow of his older brothers—athletic and academic superstars, twins who died tragically at the age of 22. Despondent, George heads to the local liquor store and runs into a sorority girl named Stacia, who flirtatiously cajoles him into giving her a ride and taking a shot of absinthe. The next thing George knows, he's disoriented and covered in blood. His back seat is strewn with a gas can and a bloody knife, and the house Stacia entered has been blown up. His only coherent thought is to stash the incriminating car back in his hometown of Niobe, Kansas. But he didn't plan on running into his three closest childhood friends: Curt, a sensitive artist who has broken his family's tradition of farming; Bill, a physics professor dealing with major marriage and debt issues from his cocaine addiction; and Travis, a hardworking security guard who has always dreamed of becoming a cop. They've all felt abandoned by George, but the ensuing days of chaos and crisis will test their loyalty beyond what they could've imagined. Hawker (End of the Road, 2017, etc.) expertly balances external and internal drama, gradually fleshing out these men's lives against the backdrop of an ever expanding criminal conspiracy. Upon first meeting Curt, Bill, and Travis, there's very little to differentiate them, but as the story progresses, they each become memorable, with the portrayal of Bill's addiction a particular standout. The plot trots along with plenty of satisfying revelations, and George's character development remains intriguing right to the end. He claims that throughout his life, others' "disappointment was like a physical presence," following and "scowling" at him—but the thought of disappointing the friends who mean the most to him in these critical moments could finally spur the personal change he's been seeking.
A twisty, emotionally rich drama.