Greed. Power. Money.
The cause of most human atrocities are rooted in those three words. The pursuit of more money, always more, relentlessly more, is a twisted sickness that infects people. Money buys power. Money buys respect.
Money buys - safety? Maybe not.
Author Tom Straw has a smart defense attorney, Macie Wild - trying to prove her client's innocence on a murder charge - teaming up with an ex-cop, Gunnar Cody, who has serious skills (think Jack Reacher skills) and a great surveillance set-up, plus a scary-good IT guy - when her case intersects with his work.
Unfortunately, Wild's and Cody's investigation exposes them to the rotten, brutal, and deadly underworld of Russian oligarchs, whose insane amounts of stolen money and the subsequent influence it buys - even in the supposedly 'safest' corners of the American legal system - turns their investigation into a dangerous adventure.
There's a lot of action - at times, it felt I was inside a Mission Impossible movie - and there is a romantic element. What Straw does nicely is making the romantic element develop slowly, so when the two of them actually do something about it, it feels natural, more realistic - more deserved. Too many other novels of this type simply throw the characters into bed as soon as possible, which always feels forced and takes me out of the story. Straw doesn't overdo it, either.
In the end, Macie, for all her worldly experience to date, is shocked by the extent that money can corrupt. It's sick, and it's a condemnation of humanity - that in thousands of years of watching people screw themselves and entire populations in the pursuit of power and money - most of today's humans haven't learned a thing.
There were a couple of drawbacks. Straw's writing style in this novel is to combine different characters' dialogue, thoughts, and actions into single paragraphs, which made me have to frequently go back and reread for clarity. Who said that? Wait. Who thought that? Wait. Who did that? I would have read this book much faster if that hadn't been an issue.
The other was Cody's motivation to pretty much drop everything - from the get-go - to spend his time, resources, and money to help Macie with her case. It wasn't explained, and, I felt, didn't make sense. He didn't seem the kind of guy to fall head-over-heels in love at first sight and, because of that, risk his life and his resources in response.
But, I can suspend disbelief when the story is interesting, so - I did.
I believe the only way to get through the slings and arrows life throws at all of us is to find the humor.