Nick White walks into a bar to have a drink, he’s down on his luck after losing his job and landing himself in a world of trouble due to poker. Lost his job, lost his wife, poor sap. In walks a blonde who sits down next to him and tells him that he’s early. Bantering begins and then ends with her handing him an envelope telling him half now and the other half when the job is done. She tells him one week and then leaves. Who did she think he was? An assassin for hire? Of course he’s going to look inside the envelope where he finds a flash drive, a pile of cash and a picture of a young woman with an address on the back. Who is she? Why does this mysterious blonde want her dead? Should he just call the police and be done with it? Should he find the endangered woman and warn her? Should he just take the money and run? Talk about a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Suddenly Nick becomes the only hope for young Abigail Pierce, the woman in the photo.
I guess it starts out with an okay premise, if you can completely suspend belief and think that someone who is desperate enough to hire someone to assassinate another person is going to just hand the money over to the first person that they sit down next to in a bar. What could have been an okay mystery turned into a quagmire that never fully explains itself.
There are twists, turns, crosses and double-crosses. That’s all well and good, and in a good number of books works quite well. In this case it just turned into a sloppy mess that the author seemed to have just given up on halfway through. There could have been a pretty well developed backstory and a damn good explanation as to why it was happening, but he dropped the ball. The only thing that was interesting about this entire story was what was contained on that flash drive. I wish he would have spent more time with that aspect of the story. As for being a mystery with lots of twists and turns? You could see the plot twists a mile away, there was no surprise. There was no shock. It was a huge letdown.
The plot aside, none of the characters had any substance. They were completely one dimensional and nothing about them was memorable. Cardboard cutouts have more personality than practically everyone in this book. I think the only character that I could connect with or have any kind of empathy to was Charlie. The story was told first person and I think this backed the author into a corner, maybe?
The only reason I finished this book was to see how the heck he was going to tie everything together. But he never did. Everything was left empty and loose strings were flying all over the place. I don’t know if this was some kind of attempt to hint at a sequel (and I didn’t care enough to research to see if there was one) or if he just stopped caring. I was really disappointed in this because I’d heard nothing but good things about this author and I even have another of his books on my TBR pile. I’m willing to give him another chance, but if you’re looking for a good mystery or a noir thriller, steer clear of Ruthless.