Romeo Zderko and Shaw McBride were driving through Georgia on their way to Florida while on vacation from their dead-end tech support jobs when they pulled over at a gas station to check out the tire damage caused by hitting an animal. Shaw overhears a conversation about a South Carolina family who just won the multimillion-dollar lottery and immediately begins hatching a plan to cash in on part of the winnings. Shaw convinces the Boatwright family to play along with the ruse that he is an old friend with whom they are sharing the money or all Romeo will kill all their loved ones. And that’s just the beginning of Shaw’s grand schemes.
The Boatwright family along with most of the Brunswick community eventually succumbs to Shaw’s charisma as Romeo begins sliding into a form of madness; he simply cannot say no to his childhood buddy. Despite assurances from the Boatwright’s, Burris the old city cop knows in his bones that something isn’t right about the situation but can’t find anything definitive to go on until he remembers a seemingly minor detail. The question is, can he prevent Romeo from carrying out Shaw’s plans when their fail proof system falls apart.
Green has constructed a riveting psychological thriller that maintains a relentless level of tension from start to finish. The main problem with this story is its improbability, with today’s level of technology and connectedness; it seems unlikely the family couldn’t get law enforcement assistance without tipping of the extortionist. Still, this is a strong, entertaining tale that will hold your interest while plumbing the depths of greed and self-interest.