JOPLIN, Mo. —
"The Three-Day Affair," Michael Kardos' suspenseful first novel, brings together three friends for a long weekend of golf and catching up. But a robbery and kidnapping change it to a weekend that forces them to decide how far they will go to keep what they don't want to lose.
Will and his wife Cynthia moved to Newfield, N.J., and have a house and a yard, and a baby on the way. Newfield is safe, unlike New York City Ñ where Will's band mate Gwen was shot and killed by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting. Will no longer plays music but records it at a small local studio and he knows the quickest way to get medical help in his new hometown.
Will, a Princeton graduate, gets together with fellow graduates Nolan (politician), Jeffrey (dot-com millionaire) and Evan (lawyer) each year for a golf weekend. Will has persuaded them to forgo a resort locale this year and come to his home in the New Jersey suburbs.
The Jersey weekend saves him money and will enable him to show his friends the studio where he works and hopes to start a record label Ñ a venture he hopes they find worthy of investment.
Nolan arrives first then Jeffrey; Evan is held up at the last minute and cannot come until Saturday morning. Jeffrey is obviously troubled; he tried to cancel on the weekend but Will persuaded him to make the trip.
The three have dinner and Nolan and Jeffrey agree to a $20,000 investment in Will's record label. After leaving the restaurant Jeffrey needs something for his upset stomach and has Will stop at the Milk-n-Bread convenience store.
When Jeffrey finally emerges from the store he changes all their lives. He has the young Milk-n-Bread employee with him, pushes her into the car and yells "Drive."
Confused and not sure what is going on, Will tries to question Jeffrey but he again says "Drive." So Will drives, thinking Jeffrey's command to drive is because the young woman is hurt and he takes a route that will get them to the nearest hospital.
They are miles down the road before Will and Nolan realize there is no medical emergency. Miles down the road before Jeffrey's "I didn't mean to take her" sinks in and they begin to realize what he has done. Jeffrey robbed the Milk-n-Bread and took the clerk so she couldn't call the police.
Will is ready to take the young woman back to the store or to the police and explain the situation. However, Nolan refuses both options as he believes Jeffrey has made them accomplices to robbery and kidnapping.
Needing a place to talk, Will takes them all to the recording studio. No one is scheduled to be there until Monday evening so they will have time to work things out. But working things out begins to seem impossible with a hostage who isn't who they thought and long-held grudges surfacing as the tension mounts.
As a way out becomes more unlikely with each hour that passes, how far will they go to find a solution? How desperate are they to go back to the lives they took for granted?
This novel is as much about the characters as the suspense. Kardos gave me a character I cared about and reveals the relationships and personalities of the friends with flashbacks to their days at Princeton.
This novel took me on an emotional roller coaster and just when I had that, "A-ha, I knew it" moment, the end took me completely by surprise.
Patty Crane is reference librarian for the Joplin Public Library.