Title: Family Money
Author: Chad Zunker
Published on: 1 March 2022
Genre: General Fiction | Mystery and Thrillers
Alex Mahan and his family are spending a week in Mexico City, lending a helping hand to the local orphanage. Alex and his father-in-law Joe go to the city center to buy groceries. Just before reaching their car, Joe is kidnapped. Just before the kidnappers put a black bag on Joe’s head, he looks at Alex and says “I’m sorry.”
Alex has no idea why his father-in-law is sorry for getting kidnapped. Alex contacts the local police and a detective named Raul appears at the crime scene. He says kidnappers might contact Alex and demand ransom. But the call never arrives. Alex goes back to the orphanage and tells the rest of his family (wife Taylor, daughters Olivia and Nicole, and mother-in-law Carol) the news. The next day, Raul tells Alex the van matching the description of the kidnappers’ is caught in an explosion. A body is found and Alex must identify it.
The body is badly burnt but the artifacts found on the body (a belt and a ring) matches that of Joe. The family cremates Joe in Mexico and takes his ashes home to Austin, Texas. Alex goes to his in-laws’ place to bring back the dog and is attacked by an unknown assailant. He manages to see the assailant’s face though. It is the same man who Alex found lurking around on the day Joe was kidnapped.
Alex reports the breaking-in and then returns home to find Joe’s cellphone vibrating. There is a message. “Call me ASAP. I think we’ve been found out. – Greta” Alex calls the number and tells Greta that Joe was kidnapped and killed in Mexico. Greta disconnects the call. Alex tries to call back but his calls remain unanswered.
Alex wanted to start a company of his own but he was short of cash. Joe decided to pitch in and transferred 5million dollars to his account. Alex learns from Joe’s lawyer that Joe never had any 5 million dollars in his bank account. As Alex digs deeper into his deceased father-in-law’s past, he finds that Joe was not who he claimed to be. Why was Joe killed? Why did he say sorry when he was kidnapped?
First things first, I know I have written a pretty long synopsis of the book but what can I say? I was hooked onto the story and could not put it down until the end. What a brilliant turn of events. From a man grieving the loss of his father-in-law (Joe was also a father figure to Alex) to finding the truth about his father-in-law’s past which leads him to an adventure, goodness book was totally an action-filled package!
Alex is the narrator of the story and it is quite clear to see why he’s curious about digger deeper into his father-in-law’s past. He’s being followed alright, even attacked once. Yet, he feels he owes to the man who played a major role in his life. Alex does not want to tell his findings to his wife Taylor. He does not want to lie to her but if he has to do a bit of amateur sleuthing, he has to lie to his wife.
Halfway through the story, we have a shocking twist – something to do with Joe’s past. This particular twist in question turns things murkier for Alex. He’s being followed – everywhere. Someone’s been keeping an eye on him and Alex fears if his family would be harmed. But the curiosity of learning Greta’s identity and how she’s connected to Joe gets the better of him.
The character portrayal is excellent and the mystery behind Joe’s kidnapping, murder and dark past kept me guessing till the end. I read this book in one sitting – I had to, it was THAT engrossing! I loved the storytelling and the writing. The ending is straight-out-of-an-action movie-like-sequence. If you see the blurb on Goodreads or Amazon, it might not seem very interesting but believe me, this book is totally worth it!
If you love suspenseful mysteries with a shocking twist, you might want to give Chad Zunker’s Family Money a try.
I received an ARC from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.