Molly's Reviews

The PaybackThe Payback
Hilary Hawke
Writer's Showcase

Interesting Read Recommended 4 stars

Nearing the taxi stand a red-haired woman suddenly finds herself striding back into the Newark Airport terminal. Following a chance meeting with a worried young woman who has waited for hours for a husband who had not appeared, Margot Fortune, at one time a promising young actress, gathers Claudia Lopez and her sleeping child. A taxi ride across the city to the address where the errant husband is thought to be staying provides more worry and little satisfaction. Antonio's arrival in America was soon followed his falling for the temptation of quick money and the dissipate lifestyle of a drug dealer. On the day he was supposed to meet his family at the airport Antonio awakens in a stoned stupor to realize he has lost a kilo of cocaine in addition to forgetting to pickup Claudia. Antonio's unsympathetic employers will take either the money, the drugs or his wife if necessary. When it becomes apparent Claudia and her infant daughter Julianna have no where to go Margot offers both mother and child a place to stay. Before long Claudia realizes Antonio has either abandoned her and their child, or something has happened to him. She sets out to find any job available to support herself and her child. Along the way Claudia come to understand that few if any can be trusted. Eventually Claudia sees more of the dark world of sex, drugs and prostitution than she had ever anticipated.

An action thriller filled with deep character study "The Payback" offers a trio of absorbing, adequately developed players as well as many credible lesser characters. Claudia Lopez the young stranger to a strange land is not quite so pitiable or powerless as she appears. Antonio, Claudia's errant husband, too late understands the ramifications of his foolish dealings. Benefactor Margot Fortune may not be quite the humanitarian she appears. Writer Hawke's open, clear prose indicates she has true writing ability. Voices of the primary characters are genuine, believable and present the reader with a perceptive glimpse into the story behind the characters. The reader will discern both the confidence as well as the mordancy felt by Claudia and Margot as they struggle to find some answers for problems facing them.

"The Payback" is loosely based on Hawke's up-close glimpse into the Manhattan call girl trade gleaned from her days as a professional musician, who often accepted odd jobs to tide her over between gigs. Hawke worked as a bank teller, florist, NYC cabdriver, waitress and unwittingly as a receptionist in a Sutton Place Brothel. "The Payback" is a jolting account that grabs reader fascination instantly and maintains it to the conclusion. From beginning to end "The Payback" is a fast-paced tingle packed ride. A detailed shocker of incertitude and a trace of conundrum with sub plots thrown in "The Payback" presents excited episodes sure to thrill the adrenaline seeker. The big city drug crowd is pretty stereotyped as predacious. Some sub-plotting seems a bit out of kilter however, fans of a stressful suspense thriller will receive plenty of positive feed back from Hilary Hawke's rousing chiller.

Not for the squeamish, "The Payback" abounds in variety of intense, agitated sex scenes, repulsive types, aberrant sex, lowlifes and drugs.

Happy to recommend.

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2005 by Molly Martin