By Jonathan Stone
It’s doubtful you’ll come across a more unlikely hero than the protagonist in “Moving Day,” by Jonathan Stone. Suspend belief and lose yourself in a thriller that amps up with ferocity, building to heart-stopping scenes set in a remote barn in rural Montana. But first, meet Stanley Peke.
A plucky senior of 72, in enviable physical condition, but sometimes a bit forgetful, Peke and his wife Rose have had a good life — accumulated a house full of possessions in Westchester, N.Y. — jewelry, paintings, antique furniture and a Mercedes in the garage. But the time has come to downsize, so they call a moving company to load up all of their things for their new place in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Imagine Peke’s surprise when the crew shows up the day before scheduled explaining that the couple must have had the date written down wrong. Imagine the couples’ shock when they open their front door the next day to the real moving company crew.
The Pekes have been scammed, all their belongings whisked away to a barn that serves as a warehouse for goods stolen from unsuspecting senior citizens, lifetime belongings and mementos. Getting the Pekes’ stuff there involves a cross-country road trip.
A loner named Nick heads up the operation. He’s supported by a crew of tough guy truckers and a group of skinheads out West who are cruel beyond measure. Those are the unsavory villains Stanley Peke finds himself up against when he ingeniously discovers a way to track their semi’s progress.
There’s much more to Peke than meets the eye. As a 7-year-old Polish boy, he faced down ruthless enemies, escaping the pogroms, later immigrating to America. The senior has plenty of repressed pain and secrets unshared.
Though “Moving Day” demands suspending reality a bit too much at times, it’s a fast, addictive read, a perfect book for the beach or pool. You, too, will be rooting for Peke to keep his head above water. This novel is pure escapism.