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MIchael Hayes

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

A sudden windfall – and the money to make every dream come true… With finances and marriage strained to the breaking point, Rose and Henry Ball dream of new lives filled with romance and adventure. Then Fortune takes a hand. Against all odds the couple win a record Powerball lottery. The sudden windfall is the answer to all their prayers. Or not. Helpless to resist the sirens’ song, the Balls leap feet first into the intoxicating world of the super-rich. Henry drifts into treacherous waters on a mad Russian oligarch’s yacht, while Rose throws caution to the wind and rushes headlong into the arms of a beautiful, dangerous stranger. The Balls are in way over their heads by the time Fortune reveals her capricious nature. A swashbuckling investment banker entrusted with their wealth has rolled the dice and lost. Now, money can’t save Rose from a terrible fate. It’s up to Henry to come to her rescue. The pleasures and perils of sudden wealth spring to life in the rip-roaring POWERBALLS, where wealth and security are illusions – and only love endures.
A satiric comedy-adventure that arrives just in time for a midlife crisis, Clifton’s debut novel follows Henry Ball, an aging accountant who hates his boss, and his restless wife, Rose Ball, who hates her life, when the couple wins a billion-dollar lottery––just when Rose finally resolves to leave him after 20 years. Henry had lost his will to live but now insists their problems are fixed, but money, of course, doesn’t make everything right. So, they embark on their own adventures and explore their––now, unlimited––options. Henry ends up on a Russian oligarch’s yacht for a year, while Rose ends up traveling the world with a Colombian polo star (half her age). But not everything is as it seems. Just when they start to realize they miss each other and their home, they both face danger to their lives, to their relationship, and maybe to their fortune.

Clifton delivers a fast-paced comedy in a chipper, sometimes sarcastic tone about engaging characters, complete with a grounded ending that has nothing to do with the billion-dollar lottery ticket. Even when the stakes are high, Clifton never neglects the story’s wit or warmth, though it’s disappointing that the climax finds the “emasculated” Henry’s masculinity restored at the expense of Rose, who becomes (uncharacteristically) a damsel in distress. Still, though Henry and Rose have their flaws, they remain mostly likeable, especially Rose, who takes time on her own to seize a new independence and figure out what she really wants.

The plot gets wilder as it goes, with Clifton pulling off a feat of plate-spinning: He includes blackmail, diamonds, foreign prisons, motorcycle gangs, unlikely alliances, and an undercover sting operation, all without losing sight of the human story at the novel’s heart. A lively beach or commute read, this quick, cheerful parody of aging, capitalism, and marriage offers a little bit of everything––comedy, suspense, romance––and even some insights into the meaning of life.

Takeaway: The sunny comic adventure of a middle-aged couple who wins the lottery in the thick of their midlife crises.

Great for fans of: Tim Dorsey’s The Pope of Palm Beach, Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, Carl Hiaasen’s Lucky You.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B

" an action-packed adventure story that alsoserves as a cautionary taleof what can happen when one is suddenly thrown intoa position of greatwealth...the book was fast-paced and exciting. I loved thatthere wasalways an unexpected twist popping up..."

 -Kirkus Reviews

"A mysterious author delivers the comical tale...a raucous adventure around the globe...brisk, debaucherous, and cheeky sense of, modern, and world-spanning..."

—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“Readers looking for a rollicking adventure... intrigue and action will love Powerballs…where romance, adventure, and greed intersect in a world-hopping journey of lives gone awry.”