One to Go
Oceanview, Dec 2 2014, $26.95
DC lawyer Tom Booker drives on the Arlington Memorial Bridge while also texting. Not focused on the road, Tom crashes into a minivan driven by his sister-in-law Rosie Battaglia and his seven-year-old daughter Janie and her friends inside. To his helpless horror, Tom observes Rosie’s vehicle on the verge of falling into the Potomac below.
A couple approaches Tom with a deal to save his child. They will turn back the clock to before his neglect occurred but he must murder someone every two weeks to pay the “soul exchange” debt for each one saved in the minivan. The desperate father accepts their terms; but when he finds himself driving on the Arlington Memorial Bridge with no accident, Tom assumes he suffered a strange nightmarish fugue moment. His reality alters when two weeks later a text arrives informing him that Rosie has been viciously killed and one of the kids will follow if he fails to live up to the terms of the contract.
One To Go is an absorbing Faustian thriller as the father finds himself in a moral quandary between saving his daughter at the cost of killing innocents. Although the climax disappointingly impacts Tom’s responsibility and accountability, Mike Pace authors an interesting ethical question of how far will a papa (or mama) grizzly go to save a beloved cub.