After experiencing firsthand the negative effects of an “act of God” on the stock of a company he was touting (when that firm’s charismatic leader dies suddenly of a heart attack), high-strung Wall Street analyst Evan Stoess is a little more proactive the next time he is close to a big score, murdering a famous but flighty game designer after shorting the stock of the designer’s company. The obscene amounts of money he reaps as a result leads him to conclude that he has found the perfect business model. Unfortunately for him, however, shadowy characters wish to direct his actions to suit their own purposes.
Utilizing a thoroughly repugnant protagonist is a great risk, but first-time novelist Ted Scofield makes it pay off handsomely. Although loathsome, Stoess and his fragile psyche are fascinating, as his obsession with wealth and his uncanny talent for planning murders leads him into continuously deeper, darker moral waters. That Scofield does so with a generous amount of black humor (reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake’s bravura performance in 1997’s The Ax) makes Eat What You Kill an even better read, one you’ll be pushing on friends throughout the course of 2014.