Returning to campus after a night out, college students Finney Durant, Nick Laymon and Reed Tucker discover the dark heart that lurks just below the surface of "civilized" morality when Finney's car hits someone on a winding Smokey Mountain road. Nick insists they return to the scene of the accident, where they find the victim — along with his loaded .45, a roll of hundred-dollar bills and the key to a bus station locker. They decide on a cover-up — despite his qualms, Nick wants the dead man's cash — and things turn grisly for the young men and Nick's girlfriend, Sue. The hit-and-run incident is just the beginning of their problems once they also nab the victim's key and find a videotape of the rape, torture and murder of a teenage girl in the bus station locker. Pivoting on Nick's tenuous grasp of morality, this nightmarish, graphic debut novel from Bailey (The Resurrection Man's Legacy and Other Stories) and Slay (Ian McEwan) attempts to imitate noir authors such as Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, but falls short on style and grit.
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