The Walkaway by Scott Phillips

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The crime was unintentional and had no witnesses. The guilty could flee the scene, dispose of the body, keep the cash, and simply walk away. But actions have consequences. And even the most perfectly executed “walkaway” is followed by a shadow. . . .

On a snowy Christmas morning in 1979, Gunther Fahnstiel, travelling with his wife, accidentally backed his RV over a stranger, killing him instantly. In the poor soul’s car was a satchel containing plane tickets, a .22 caliber pistol, a bottle of Johnnie Walker, and more money than Gunther had ever seen in his life. For the debt-ridden old couple, it would indeed be a merry Christmas. But nobody can buy a happy ending. Especially Gunther.

Ten years later, under the scorching summer sun, seventy-seven-year-old Gunther walks away from his nursing home and sets off to find the hidden money. But he is not alone: hot on his trail is a former captain of the Wichita police, who is piecing together clues for two unsolved murders; a two-timing, whore-loving local developer, who sees dollar signs if the coot is captured; Gunther’s stepson, a former bouncer turned businessman whose curiosity is peaked by his mother’s creative accounting; and that very same mother (AKA Gunther’s wife), who risks her husband’s safety to keep their secret.

As the journey unfolds and the mercury climbs, another story emerges of a U.S. soldier returning to Wichita in 1952 under an assumed name to seek vengeance on his estranged wife. The young patrolman out to protect her is none other than Gunther Fahnstiel, whose actions will reverberate in the lives of all involved nearly half a century later.

Cops on the take, jealous husbands with scores to settle, hookers scratching by, cranky curmudgeons, assorted misfits, and a ugly whore named Beulah–all play intricate roles in The Walkway. With the same flair for dark humor and crime noir that heralded his bestselling debut, Scott Phillips returns with another accomplished novel of deceit, treachery, and old-fashioned greed.

About Scott Phillips

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Scott Phillips is the author of highly acclaimed crime novels. His debut novel, The Ice Harvest, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and won the California Book Award, a Silver Medal for Best First Fiction, and was a finalist for the Edgar Awards, the Hammett Prize and the Anthony Award. Its follow-up The Walkaway continued his success. His third novel, Cottonwood, is now out in paperback. Born in Wichita, Kansas, Scott lived for many years in Paris, and then in Southern California. He now lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.
Published July 30, 2002 by Ballantine Books. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Walkaway

Kirkus Reviews

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A long, looping series of flashbacks to 1952 suggests that Dot’s fears are groundless because there are enough unsolved (often unsuspected) local felonies stretched out to the distant past as far as the eye can see to keep the searchers busy for another three or four volumes—assuming, of course, ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Gunther's stepson, Sidney, to whom Gunther once gave $12,000 to buy a strip joint, attempts a payback by setting up a reward in the same amount for anyone who finds Gunther.

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Book Reporter

THE WALKAWAY is its polar opposite, bouncing in viewpoint from 10 years after to roughly a quarter-century before the events of THE ICE HARVEST and focusing on Gunther Fahnstiel, introduced at the end, literally, of that novel.

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Walkaway

I was terribly disappointed by Phillips' debut novel, THE ICE HARVEST, but did get a sense from it that Phillips is a strong writer.

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