“A determined mother, a murderous conspiracy, a twenty-year-old secret and an impending, dangerous hurricane collide in this gut-wrenching thriller.”
Everything to Lose Synopsis
Driving along a country road, Hilary Cantor, a single mom who’s just lost her job and whose deadbeat ex-husband has left her to care alone for her son with Asperger’s, witnessed a freakish accident and rushes to help. She finds the driver dead and a satchel with a half million dollars.
That money could help prevent her family’s ruin. In an instant, this honest, dedicated mom does something she could never have imagined, pulled into a terrifying scheme involving a twenty-year-old murder, a powerful politician with a violent past, and a dogged police official with his own connections to the money. Set in the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it shows how one bad decision can bring on a tsunami of consequences.
According to Andrew Gross, his ideas for this novel were born out of several nagging questions.
“In Everything to Lose, there were four of these original, but completely separate, elements. The first was a question– how far would you go as a parent to protect your own child? Would you cross the line and do something you knew was wrong? Even criminal? Does doing a bad thing for the right reason make it right? Or forgivable? So I created a gritty, devoted, but desperate mom, whose life has taken an unfortunate turn, and a son with hardships. And a deadbeat dad, and ultimately a tempting twist of fate that lures her over the edge. It’s just a small step from the moral high ground to total freefall.
Throw into the mix that a year or so ago I read a fascinating article on what are known as “C-U” kids—callous and unemotional—who behaviorists feel carry the twisted personality defect of future psychopaths. I began to wrestle with the thought: what if one of these kids grows up, learns to control his bad instincts, manages to get through life and ultimately finds himself as a person of power and responsibility—and then the urges come back. It would be like a lurking bad seed, someone admired and looked up to, but a time bomb waiting to go off. Someone with something to hide.
Five years ago, I saved a newspaper article describing the murder of a teenage girl by her boyfriend decades before on the blighted, industrialized shoreline of Staten Island. I can’t quite recall what attracted me back then: that it was buried and forgotten for twenty years; that when ultimately admitted to, it was such a seemingly spontaneous and motiveless act. I thought, what if that was my “bad seed” back then? Something he did, concealed, then ran away from. That article I threw in “the vault” suddenly sprang back to life.
Then sometimes, real life has a way of contributing things. Superstorm Sandy happened as I was putting all this together, a devastating game changer, especially in the low lying coastal areas, in this case, Staten Island. It all began to fit together, even more when I combined it with the personal tale of a good friend, who’s mother owned a house on the Jersey shore which was devastated by the storm—every memento, every antique, every photo, every piece of china, every filagreed frame, every piece of history of their life, swept out to sea and washed away. It was a compelling and heartbreaking testimony for me, and I wanted to weave it in, tie it into my silent, buried murder victim from Staten Island; into to my now-powerful bad seed with something terrible to hide. Back into my desperate mother who steals something she knows is wrong. All linked together by the storm, by something valuable washed out to sea, and then is carried back by the same waves that took it and returns with devastating consequences.”
In reality, the story is one that we’ve heard many times before. Our protagonist – in this case the down on her luck mom Hilary – stumbles upon a treasure. She reaps the rewards of said treasure before realizing her decision has created a series of events that are less than desired.
While reading, we should all ask ourselves, what would I do if I found the money that Hilary did? That’s exactly how you should approach this novel. Because we all sometimes are down on our luck, and we all sometimes wish we would stumble upon a surprising treasure that could change it all.
Everything to Lose garnered a decent review rating on many sites including Barnes & Noble with an average rating of 3.5 – out of five stars – throughout a total of 23 reviews.
But is it worth the read? We’re going to take a closer look to find out.
Everything to Lose Review
Everything to Lose is an entirely relatable thriller, in the sense that you could see yourself in Hilary’s place – the heroine of our story. The only exception, of course, being that she seems rather… well, entitled.
She lives in a huge house that she can’t afford and is unwilling to give up, has enrolled her disabled child in a special school that charges an inordinate amount of money, and she lives a pretty lavish lifestyle for a single mother, which includes excess like getting regular mani/pedis and visiting coffee shops.
At the initial stages, it’s difficult to feel sorry for Hilary that’s for sure. But once the story picks up all of those nuances fall away and it makes for an exciting plot-line nonetheless.
Skipping past all the initial details, Hilary stumbles upon a trove of cash after coming upon the scene of an auto accident. It would appear the elderly driver stuffed all their money in a bag and took off to, who knows where? Unsure what to do, Hilary acts quickly and buries the money nearby, just in case.
After suffering even more hardships, she decides to collect the money and use it for her own gain. After all, who wouldn’t?
That’s when she begins to discover something sinister lurking behind the scenes, which is what opens up all the suspense and mystery one would ever need to encounter in a single lifetime to make it exciting.
In case you’re wondering, yes we’re being purposefully vague. The plot is not convoluted or complicated at all. In fact, there’s a good chance you won’t be surprised by a majority of what happens, especially if you’ve ever read a mystery, suspense, or thriller novel before. That’s not to say it isn’t worth the read, because it is.
Just be aware that there’s nothing particularly unorthodox in Hilary’s story – at least when compared to other novels in the genre.
Is Everything to Lose Worth the Read?
If you’re looking for a compelling, relatively quick, and light read then Everything to Lose is a good choice. None of the themes in the book are overly heavy. Hurricane Sandy plays a larger recurring role than you’d expect, and there’s a lot going on. It’s exciting to say the least, at least from about the middle to the end.
Hilary is relatable personality-wise, though her lifestyle is certainly questionable. But the decisions she makes to save her family, and the series of events that unfold could happen to any one of us, which makes this thriller hit closer to home than a lot of other books out there.
Ultimately, Andrew Gross weaves an engaging tale and continues to show off his exceptionally strong, authentic voice.
Are There Similar Books Worth Reading?
Unless you live in a cave tucked far away from society, you should be able to find plenty of murder-mystery novels! Of course, to make your search easier, we put together a small list of similar books that you might be interested in – if you found The Murder House good.
- The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis
- The Last Victim by Kevin O’Brien
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Down the Rabbit Hole by Multiple Authors
- Goodbye to the Dead by Brian Freeman
Where Can I Get Everything to Lose?
We researched several vendors, and have found that the best price is almost always offered by Amazon. Not to mention, they have some of the best shipping options for the cheapest prices – if you buy the physical version of the novel. It just so happens that they also offer a digital eBook version, as well. So take your pick!