Michael Marshall was a household name in my house even before I first saw his book, STRAW MEN, sitting in a hotel sundry store. The reason? I went to grade school with someone named Michael Marshall, and when I saw the book on the rack, I picked it up wondering if the stocky, red-headed lad I had known all those years ago was the author of what looked to be an interesting paperback novel. Alas, they were not; the book, however, was excellent, and I've been a fan ever since. Marshall is a master at taking the commonplace and making it spin horrifically out of control, as he demonstrates once again in his latest and best work to date.
"By story's end, you will wish you had never read it, but you'll be glad you did."
KILLER MOVE takes place primarily in the Florida Keys among the rich and famous, and those who aspire to be so. Bill Moore is among the aspirants. As for an expensive and exclusive condominium complex known as The Breakers, Moore is a large cog for a very big wheel. And while he is doing quite well, Moore wants to be a wheel himself; his five-year plan, however, is overripe by approximately 18 months or so. A chance meeting with a local mover and shaker results in an opportunity for Moore to list the man's multi-million-dollar digs, and he can't wait to do business. Almost immediately, though, his life begins to fall apart incrementally.
It starts when Moore begins receiving cards in the mail bearing only one word: "MODIFIED." That seems harmless enough. Quickly, though, things go downhill for him. He receives an extremely interesting package in the mail that he never ordered. Emails he never sent, but are unquestionably from his account, are showing up all over town. His wife makes a discovery that results in her becoming simply furious with him, and the big-shot client disappears. All Moore wants to do is cut one big deal. However, heseems to be the deal that is about to be cut.
Meanwhile, a man named John Hunter has just been released from prison after serving 17 hard years for a crime he did not commit: killing the only woman he ever loved. Hunter is returning to the Keys to wreak vengeance upon the people who changed his life forever. When he arrives, his life and Moore's are about to intersect explosively, in ways and for reasons that are violent and unpredictable. Before it's over, innocent and guilty alike will suffer, and a game that has been played out over and over for decades will be changed permanently.
If you have even a seed of paranoia planted in your brain, KILLER MOVE will water, fertilize and nurture it until it's the size of a sequoia tree. Guaranteed. If you've ever had one of those days where someone cuts you off in traffic just before your engine stalls out, and your auto service keeps you on hold forever so that you miss an important meeting that results in your losing an important account and… well, you know where I'm going with this. Marshall is one of those authors whose plots take his readers into unpredictable and unforgettable places that seem all too familiar. By story's end, you will wish you had never read it, but you'll be glad you did. Oh, and if you're familiar with Marshall's body of work, KILLER MOVE will give you an added jolt or two. Be forewarned.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 22, 2011