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Book Review - "Everything to Lose" by Andrew Gross

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.

9780061656002_p0_v4_s260x420Andrew Gross has written another intriguing book with his latest, Everything To Lose. As with most of his books he explores the question of how someone’s life can change in a brief moment.  These random acts and their resulting consequences lead to dire penalties.

The plot takes off from page one when a down on her luck mother, Hilary Cantor, witnesses an accident while driving along a suburban road she has never taken before. Having just lost her job, caring for her handicapped son with Asperger Syndrome, and having a deadbeat husband she makes a fatal decision.  Hilary discovers the dead driver has a briefcase stuffed with a half million dollars.  In a weak moment she takes the money hoping to prevent her financial ruin. 

It is with these scenes that Gross is at his best.  He has the reader question how far would a parent go to protect their child; including doing something they knew was wrong?  For Hilary this act entangles her in a twenty- year old murder conspiracy. Because she now sees herself in a position to lose everything, Hilary connects with a policeman attempting to get his life and his town’s life back together after Hurricane Sandy.  They work together in an attempt to bring down a powerful enemy.  

Gross told, “My idea for a novel is that something starts on a bit of a routine level and then the stakes become larger and larger.  I think this is what makes a good thriller.  I have this mundane act that just spirals and multiplies in consequence.  I used these powerful words in the opening, ‘life is about one mistake and then what happens afterward.’ I like the sense of randomness where all the variables are put together to create an incident.”

His characters are well defined, believable, and very sympathetic.  The reader gets to know the character, understand the character’s motivations, and can connect with them.  Instead of thinking of Hilary as someone without moral integrity they feel for and root for her, understanding her hopeless feelings.  Gross wants Hilary to be seen as “a sympathetic figure who is forgiven for taking the money.  The book is about how this mother would sacrifice anything for their child including crossing over the line to do something criminal. If she did a bad thing for the right reasons does that make it forgivable?  I hope people see Hilary as a gritty mom that is devoted and desperate.”

A supporting character in the book is Hurricane Sandy.  The policeman helping Hilary, Patrick, is described in the book as “someone who would break an arm than his word.”  Yet, because the storm devastated his sister’s house and she put in fraudulent claims he took over her debt payments to the insurance company by borrowing it from the Russian mob.  Everything in the book is tied to this storm from having Patrick needing some of the money found to having clues washed up on the shore to a murder.

Most of Gross’ book are stand alones like Everything To Lose.  However, his next book is the fourth book of the Ty Hauck series.  Gross gave a heads up about this next novel.  “Ty Hauck is no longer the head of detectives with the Connecticut police force and now works for a posh security firm.  The new book takes place in Colorado and deals with corruption in the oil and gas business.  The controversy is between hydraulic fracking and the effect on ranchers/farmers in the area.  I consider this story a bit of a modern western.”

Everything To Lose is a novel about choices and consequences.  Through well-developed characters and a riveting plot Gross is able to write a first-class book that the reader will not want to put down.