Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Two for the Show by Jonathan Stone
Reviewed by G. Robert Frazier
Two for the Show (Thomas & Mercer, $15.99) by Jonathan Stone is a deceptively good novel that will leave you guessing at every turn.
Stone, who wrote the award-winning short “The Mailman” in last year’s Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded anthology, returns with a thoroughly engrossing tale of false identities, lies, kidnapping, and, maybe, just a little magic for good measure.
The book follows the firsthand account of Chas, who professes to have “the strangest job you’ve ever heard of.” Chas is a detective, but not the kind that scopes out the dirt on extramarital affairs, missing persons, or femme fatales. Rather, our hero is a computer hack whose specialty is garnering just enough information about his targets to make his employer, “Wallace the Amazing,” look, well, amazing.
Wallace, you see, is a supposed clairvoyant who mesmerizes crowds nightly at his Las Vegas show by picking folks from the audience and then proceeding to astound them with facts about their lives that he couldn’t possibly know. Of course, he knows everything because his marks are always carefully pre-identified prior to the show, giving Chas enough time to learn everything about them, and then secretly convey that information to Wallace.
When one of the targeted couples turns the tables on Wallace, Chas’s world is turned upside down. He immediately dreads that he has made a costly mistake that will expose Wallace for the fraud he is.
As Chas investigates the mysterious couple, he soon learns they have their own “Amazing Wallace” tied up in a bathtub at their home.
Confused, terrified, and determined to get to the truth, for the first time Chas begins asking questions about his own boss, leading to a deeper and darker rabbit hole of misinformation. Before long, he’s caught up in a perfectly conceived blackmail scheme, leaving him to perform his own sleight of hand if he’s going to get out of the mess in one piece.
As in “The Mailman,” Stone brilliantly takes a seemingly mundane and harmless profession and manages to turn it on its head. The result is a surprisingly suspenseful and thoroughly intriguing novel that will keep readers mesmerized to the last page.
G. Robert Frazier is an author and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter @grfrazier23, and visit his Adventures in Writing blog at https://grfrazier.wordpress.com.
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