The Teller by Jonathan Stone (Thomas and Mercer, May 12, 2015) – Elaine Kelly’s spent the last few years of her life working as a bank teller and taking care of her terminally ill mother. Mom’s illness sucks up most of Elaine’s salary, as well as most of her free time. When one of Elaine’s regular customers is hit by a truck and killed in front of the bank, Elaine makes a snap decision: there’s over a million dollars sitting in the man’s account, so she transfers it to her own.
That decision comes back to haunt her when someone comes looking for the money. Elaine’s unwittingly crossed some very dangerous people, and they’ll drag her into their scheme without compunction.
The thing that struck me about The Teller right away was the pace. Stone has this almost abrupt tone, his sentences snapping off at the ends and pushing you right on to the next one. Sometimes you have to put the book down to catch your breath, but it’s kind of pointless to do so, because as soon as you pick it back up, you’ve lost it again.
He’s built this rich, complex story that peels back like an onion. What happens to Elaine in the beginning of The Teller is only the first layer. Each new one is a little tighter, and it stings, too. Stings and burns and gives you that tingling feeling in your nose that won’t go away.
With each twist and turn into the darkness, Elaine gains a new edge. Some of them soften or dull in the heat of the moment, while others remain painfully sharp. By the time you reach the bottom of the rabbit hole, she’s still Elaine, but she’s also not. She was never naive, but she was innocent, and that innocence is long gone.
You can’t help wondering if the end is really the end, because for Elaine, everything is just beginning.