The “unexpectedly moving” story of dumb luck and the American Dream set in South Philly from the # 1 New York Times–bestselling author (Entertainment Weekly).
What would you do if you found a million dollars? When Joey Coyle did, he was a twenty-eight-year-old drug-dependent, unemployed longshoreman living with his ailing mother in a tight-knit Philadelphia neighborhood. While cruising the streets just blocks from his home, fate took a turn worthy of a Hollywood caper when he found $1.2 million in unmarked bills—casino money that had fallen off an armored truck. It was virtually untraceable. Coyle? Not so much.
Over the next seven days, fueled by euphoria, methamphetamine, and paranoia, Coyle shared his windfall with everyone from his eight-year-old niece to total strangers to a local mob boss who offered to “clean” it. All the while, Det. Pat Laurenzi and members of the FBI were working around the clock to find it. No one was prepared for how Coyle’s dream-come-true would come tumbling down, or what would happen when it did.
From “a master of narrative journalism” comes the incredible true-life thriller of an ordinary man with an extraordinary dilemma, and the complicity, concern, and betrayal of friends, family, and neighbors that would prove his undoing (The New York Times Book Review).
“A miniature serio-comedy about life in the city.” —The Washington Post
“Masterfully reported and artfully paced.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A taut, fast-paced tale.” —The Baltimore Sun
Bowden follows two bestsellers (Black Hawk Down; Killing Pablo) with a tragicomic tale based on a series of articles he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter for two decades. Joey Coyle, at 28, is down and out, amiable but aimless, an unemployed longshoreman from South Philly who, despite his cheerful exterior, has a gnawing sense of inadequacy that he masks with methamphetamine. In February 1981, Joey has a spectacularly lucky or spectacularly unlucky, as Bowden shows with the tale's unfolding day: driving with a couple of guys from the neighborhood, he finds two sacks containing $1.2 million in cash. Despite major media attention on the money's disappearance from an armored car, Coyle decides to keep it. What ensues is partly a police procedural (will the cops find Joey?), but the drama, as Bowden relates the story, lies mainly in Coyle's rapid, drug-mediated deterioration into panic and paranoia as he attempts to launder and stash the money. Bowden's narrative is succinct and fast-moving, spare but complete, and ends in a farcical trial, in which Coyle tries an insanity defense, followed by Hollywood's muddled attempt to turn the story into a feel-good movie starring John Cusack. The tale has a sad conclusion, as Coyle's attempt to live up to his new role as a kind of urban hero fails. This is a smaller tale than Bowden's earlier ones, but a satisfying one, smartly told.