‘It was impossible not to admire the fortune spread before him. How many times in his life would he gaze upon three million bucks? How many others ever got the chance?’
‘When you travel around with millions in cash everybody becomes a potential thief.’
'Greed is a strange animal, isn't it, Ray?'
The Key Characters:
Ray Atlee, a professor of law.
Forrest Atlee, Ray’s brother, a chronic drug abuser.
Judge Reuben Atlee, Ray’s father.
Ray and his brother are summoned by their father on a particular day, at a particular time. Ray arrives reluctantly to find his father dead and stumbles upon an unaccounted stash of a large fortune in cash, $3,118,000 in neat packets of hundred-dollar bills to be precise, hidden in his father’s study.
How Ray attempts to secure the money from his drug-addict brother and the Government, while trying to uncover the mystery of its origin, even as he battles with his own greed and fear, forms the crux of the story.
The lengths that the two sons traverse, to escape from the looming shadow of their legendary father is plaintive. The guilt Ray and Forrest feel, for all the lost opportunities over the years, is relatable.
The scene where Ray finds his father’s body and assumes him to be napping is poignant, because the reader has already guessed the outcome of the scene during the pages that build up to it.
The pace tends to get slow and boring towards the middle part, especially since all Ray seems to do is drive from one place to another in his car, with the money hidden in garbage bags in the trunk.
The parts where Ray gambles away the money in his quest to find out if it is dirty, is annoying and at times, dreary. The sluggish pace makes one craves for more action to spruce things up in the story.
The grim struggle of a man who needs to hide and secure a large amount of money after having been unaccustomed to it is palpable and real. Ray’s tension to secure the money, warring with temptation to spend it on his favourite Bonanza airplane, resonates with the reader. His wary care to avoid the amorous overtures of his student Kaley, despite being attracted to her, is charming enough to put a smile on the readers’ face.
Ray’s panic-driven escape from the house, despite being armed, on account of a simple threat and a stone thrown at the window, leaving behind all the money, reeks of cowardice. It is disappointing to the reader who hopes for some courageous fight-back from the protagonist of the tale.
The lack of real pace or action throughout the book dampens the twist at the end, especially because most readers accustomed to mysteries would have already figured out the main culprit, long before he is revealed at the end.
The insult felt good. Someone cared.
Some women leave and come back eventually. Others leave and endure a painful reconsideration. Still others leave with such a boldness they never look back.
She’d found a better deal, like an athlete swapping teams at the trading deadline.
Every street had a story, every building a memory. Those blessed with wonderful childhoods can drive the streets of their hometowns and happily roll back the years. The rest are pulled home by duty ad leave as soon as possible.
The town had changed, but then, it hadn’t.
As the shock began to fade, the questions took over. How long had he been dead? Was this staged for his sons?
He thought of all the things they could have done together, now that they were men, all the things they had not done when he and Forrest were boys.
As still as things were, Ray felt the violence and it made him weak. The money could get him killed.
‘I don’t lie. I cheat and bribe but I don’t lie.’
Think like a crook, Ray. Think like a thug.’
‘It may come easy for you, but it’s harder for some folks.’
Ray had a gun. Why couldn’t he protect himself?
‘I’m afraid to share it, Ray. Same as you were…Greed is a strange animal, isn’t it Ray?
Book Photography :©Chethana Ramesh