It’s my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Too Far by Jason Starr, published by No Exit Press. Thank you for asking me to take part. I have an extract for you to read but first the blurb.
One night. One date. What have you got to lose?
Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.
Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .
After the playground I went with Jonah and a few of his friends and their moms and babysitters for frozen yogurt at Sixteen Handles on Second Avenue. On the way home Jonah and I swung by Agata & Valentina on First Avenue to pick up some groceries. We’d had Chinese a lot lately, and I thought it would be nice to have a home-cooked meal for a change.
I made a garden salad and one of my specialties – chicken cutlets and rice pilaf. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly difficult to sauté a few chicken breasts and prepare packaged rice pilaf, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Maria came home and saw dinner on the stove.
‘You cooked?’ She sounded surprised.
‘Yeah, just thought it would be nice to mix things up for a change.’
‘Great idea,’ she said.
She went into the bedroom to change out of her work clothes.
During dinner, Jonah told us all about what he’d learned in science class in school
and about Pokémon Go. It was nice to have a pleasant dinner with my family. For the first time in a long time things seemed normal. Maybe if I continued to make an effort, things with Maria would improve. Maybe we could have a date night, talk more, and enjoy each other the way we used to.
‘It’s too bad they don’t teach Pokémon on the fourth grade exam,’ I said to Maria.
‘Yeah, that’s true.’ Maria suddenly seemed out of it.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked.
‘I’m not sure,’ she said, wincing, as if she had a sour taste in her mouth. ‘I have to go lie down.’ She headed into the bedroom.
Later, after I tucked Jonah in, I heard Maria in the bathroom, throwing up violently.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked, concerned. She couldn’t answer, but I caught a glimpse of her very pale face.
‘Close the door,’ she said.
For the next half-hour, she couldn’t leave the bathroom. I made periodic offers to help her, but she insisted that I leave her alone.
Finally, she left the bathroom, looking like she’d been through hell.
‘Jesus, you should lie down again,’ I said. ‘Can I get you something? Water? Ginger ale? Imodium?’ She stood near the bathroom, looking disgusted, holding her stomach.
Then she said, ‘I think it was the chicken.’ ‘I don’t see how that’s possible,’ I said. ‘I cooked it thoroughly and it definitely wasn’t spoiled. I remember checking the date on the package. I really think you should force yourself to drink some water.’ ‘Did you clean the knife?’ she asked.
‘Of course I cleaned it,’ I said.
Actually, I thought I’d cleaned it, but I couldn’t remember for sure.
‘I mean before you made the salad,’ she said.
‘Yes, of course I cleaned it,’ I said. ‘I mean I don’t remember not cleaning it.’
‘So there’s a chance you didn’t clean it?’
‘I cleaned it, I’m sure,’ I said. ‘Besides, I’m not sick and Jonah isn’t sick. It’s obviously just a virus, or something you ate at work. It’s going around. Four kids were absent in Jonah’s class today.’
‘I know the difference between food poisoning and a virus,’ Maria said, ‘and this isn’t a fucking virus. It must’ve been salmonella from the knife you used to cut the chicken.’
I understood why Maria was upset, but I didn’t like how she was taking it out on me.
‘You don’t have to curse,’ I said, ‘and are you actually accusing me of giving you salmonella?’ ‘I can curse whenever I want to curse,’ she said, She was about to add to this when her face turned grayish-white. She rushed back into the bathroom, slamming the door.
‘Why’s mommy so mad?’
Jonah had heard the door slam and came out of his room. He looked worried.
‘She’s just not feeling well,’ I said. ‘But she’ll be fine, I promise.’
‘Okay,’ Jonah said and returned to bed. I sat on the couch for a while, trying to relax. I felt bad for arguing with Maria, especially within earshot of Jonah, but the dynamic was typical. It seemed like whenever I made an attempt to try to improve my marriage or open up communication, it somehow backfired. Trying to distract myself, I went online on my laptop.
I checked Facebook – Rob had posted a selfie of himself with a big smile in front of the big clock at Grand Central Station – and I discovered that the Powerball ticket I’d bought the other day had no correct numbers. I was about to close the browser when I remembered Rob talking about that extramarital dating website; what was the name of it? Dangerous Hookups? No, Discreet Hookups, that was it.
For the hell of it, I checked it out.
The welcome page was the silhouette of a man sitting on a beach. As I dragged the cursor over the man, a silhouette of a shapely woman appeared next to him. Then above the couple the words appeared:
Marry for companionship, cheat for happiness
I was about to close my laptop, but then I thought, What the hell? and clicked enter.
Well, clearly the moral of the story is always clean the knife after preparing raw chicken!
You can find out more about Jason Starr and buy the e-book here.
Jason Starr is the international bestselling author of many crime novels and thrillers and his books have been published in over a dozen languages. Many of his books are in development for film or TV. Starr’s bestselling crime novels include Cold Caller, Nothing Personal, Fake ID, Hard Feelings, Tough Luck and Twisted City, followed by Lights Out, The Follower, Panic Attack, Savage Lane and his latest novel, Too Far. He is one of only a handful of authors who have won the Anthony Award for mystery fiction multiple times. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan.