Washington, Iowa, native Tom Hunt has taken a moral thought-experiment — how far would you go to save a person you loved — and spun it into a fast-paced first novel. “Killer Choice” is a straight ahead thriller, with little time for distractions from its primary plot. That plot finds regular guy Gary Foster agreeing to the unthinkable in order to raise the money for an experimental treatment for his wife, Beth, who is pregnant and battling an inoperable brain tumor.
Though we spend a fair amount of time in Gary’s head as he struggles to decide what to do, Hunt keeps the action at the forefront. This ability to keep things moving and hold the reader’s interest may, Hunt suggests, have something to do with his work as an advertising copy writer. He certainly get his plot points across with clarity and alacrity, perhaps sacrificing some nuance to do so.
Hunt offers up a villain with problems of his own. He is decidedly not just a regular guy, but he nevertheless makes a solid foe for Gary to try to outwit. Hunt doesn’t make it easy and he doesn’t protect his protagonist from tragedy – much of it of his own making. At times, Gary is difficult to root for, but Hunt is clearly less interested in recounting the adventures of a hero than he is in investigating the pitfalls inherent when desperation sets in.
The credulity of Gary’s wife — which Hunt attempts to address, but doesn’t quite pull off — is perhaps the weakest plot point. That said, Beth is essential to the novel’s final moral conundrum, and Hunt convincingly executes the book’s final moments.