Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A killer way of getting rich

Eat What You Kill

By Ted Scofield

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In some strange way, The pychopathic stock analyst Evan Stoess in Ted Scofield's debut novel Eat What You Kill reminds me of Clyde Griffiths, the struggling lower class dupe from Theodore Dreiser's classic An American Tragedy. Both are from less than desirable circumstances, both are obsessed with joining the privileged class while that same group of people look down upon them, and both become so desperate they consider murder as a desirable option.

But that is where the similarities end. While Clyde Griffiths struggles in the war of the classes, he also believe that he will succeed as long as he works hard and wins the admirable of the upper class. His story is one of the separations of classes in America. Evan Stoess, on the other hand, is a child of the Millennium. He doesn't gives a damn about both class struggle or working hard. He hates the upper class as much as he wants to be them. The only thing he cares about is money. Greed is his disease and he thinks money is the only thing that cures it. He has memorized portions of Ayn Rand and has taken to heart her rants about the evils of altruism and the virtues of selfishness.

Unfortunately Evan is also a sociopath which turns this cynical yet droll financial thriller into a cross between American Tragedy and American Psycho. Though growing up poor, Evan received the advantage of an upper class education which reinforced his view of being an outsiders to the more affluent boys. After getting an entry level position in a Wall Street firm he looks for his big kill (financially at first) only to see it all slip away from him at the sudden death of the company's founder. He is fired and eventually finds a job with a company that deals in short stocks; investments that essentially make money on the failure on an enterprise. It isn't long before our sociopathic whiz kid is devising a way to revive his luck and make a killing, and we are no longer thinking purely financially now.

Ted Scofield have written a tight and always entertaining thriller about Wall Street, the finance profession and murder.. Don't let the finance part scare you as the author does a great job explaining what you need to know without stopping the plot or action. But the best thing about this novel is the main character Evan Stoess. He is as unlikable as a character can get but he is not boring. The reader can marvel as his audacity and wickedness but will stay on the edge in wondering if he is going to succeed or not. Note I didn't say "Root for". Evan is fascinating but he's hard to root for. The question then becomes; Does he get away with it or not? The answer is at the end and if it is not as satisfying an ending as I would have like, it doesn't deter from the fact that this novel is one hell of a ride. This is one of the more different thrillers that has arrived in 2014 and is set to get new novelist Ted Scofield off to a running start.


  1. Marvin, thank you for the thoughtful review of the debut novel, EAT WHAT YOU KILL. Our protagonist, Evan Stoess, is indeed challenging and the reactions to him have been all over the place. Some people loathe him, others pity him, others (like you) don't quite cheer for him but are fascinated by his chutzpah. But a remarkable number of people do cheer for him, which I find wonderfully disturbing. Author Michael Sears, for example, said "before you know it, you're rooting for a monster." One reader told me "Evan does the things everyone wants to do but don't have the guts to actually do." Wow. Anyway, thanks again for the review! I'm working on the sequel and will strive to earn that 5th star from you!

  2. Thanks, Ted. I agree that part of the attraction to Evan is that he does what we would like to do but never will. I see nothing wrong with that and in fact, it could be cathartic in a healthy way. That's the retired clinical social worker in me talking. I am looking forward to the sequel.