Most teenagers who have grown up in a small community dream of moving away and seeing the world. Leaving rural Cherokee in western North Carolina is all that Amy, Carmen, Fred, Jason, and Mike think about. In a few months they will graduate from high school, move west, and leave their parents’ strict rules behind.
This desire becomes more of a reality when Mike reveals to the group that he is the sole beneficiary of a friend’s life insurance policy. If they agree to help him murder Joseph, a youth pastor, Mike will split the $50,000 policy with his accomplices. Although the two were close when Mike was a freshman and Joseph was a senior, they eventually went their separate ways. Mike resents Joseph’s encouragement to live a Christian life. Seeing this as their best way out, Mike’s friends eagerly agree to assist him. Carmen, an atheist, dislikes Joseph for pushing his views on others; Amy, Mike’s girlfriend, only wants to please him; and Fred and Jason are simply bored and looking for action. They meticulously plan the brutal torture that they will commit, buying weapons and staking out an appropriate place. They also prepare a camera so that they can record the horrific scene.
Although the group feels pleased in the days after the attack, their scheme soon begins to unravel. They learn that upon becoming engaged, Joseph removed Mike’s name from his policy; the murder was in vain. A classmate inadvertently witnessed the crime. And Amy’s mother found the tape that documented the gruesome episode and she turned it into the police. The pressure of these developments lead the five begin to turn against each other. As the cops close in on them, it becomes clear that more than one life was ruined as a result of their plot.
The torture scene, described a few different times throughout the novel, is especially graphic.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.