The United Smiths of America – Jon Voss
A high octane thriller that will keep you guessing until the last minute, The United Smiths of America is destined to become the next great suspense ride.
Author Jon Voss elevates the action to the stratosphere, leaving you gasping for air and reaching for the next page.
Get rich… or die trying.
Ten American strangers wake up inside a shipping container. They are dazed and confused with no memory of how they got there. Their only possessions are locked around their necks – steel collars packed with enough C-4 explosives to rip their heads clean off their bodies. Then the container door opens… and the collars start counting down: 09.59.59… 09.59.58… 09.59.57…
The message they receive is clear. They’re the American team, competing against nine other teams across the globe. The winning team gets $1 billion. And the losing teams? They get a grave with no name.
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“Great thriller, love the time based plot…. Raw and entertaining, the characters are well developed and will have you rooting for them as they work toward a creative solution in this highly entertaining competition. High in fantasy, creativity, action and suspense.” – Wendy Oliver
About the Author
Jon Voss was born and raised in Northern England. He escaped to London when he was 21 and worked on security-related assignments for the next 10 years, where he was based in the Middle East. He escaped again, finding solace on New Zealand’s South Island, which he now calls home.
Jon says that he has many acquaintances but only one true friend.
He likes to surf.
The United Smiths of America is Jon’s debut novel.
“The unusual plot is both interesting and gripping, there are plenty of unexpected twists too, you really start to get behind some of the characters in the book.” – Chris Adams
“Well, fella, I guess you were a lucky winner too.” Lloyd laughs at Matt. “World’s Worst Joke competition— first prize— locked up in that fucking container.”
“Yeah, right— whatever.”
“You remember how you got here, Matt?” Sophia asks.
“Kind of. I was owed shore leave. I took it in Key West. Then I meet these twins— you know the type— good girls go to heaven, bad girls go to Vegas— man oh man these girls were bad and I mean bad. Next minute we’re landing at McCarran and getting into a limo. We ended up pretty wasted. I think I had a really good time, though.”
Jedi says, “What happened to the twins?”
“Today’s lesson, kid, when the money’s gone, so are the girls.”
Sophia shakes her head at Matt. “Maybe your type of girl.”
“Mine too,” Lloyd says. “I’ve worked my ass off all my life. Had me a good legal practice in Burlington, New Jersey. My office furniture was imported English oak. Then Mrs Smith the third and her two-million-buck settlement happened. I got to keep the fucking dog that shits on my rugs and the Vegas vacation. She prefers Europe. Big odds us all being Smiths, too fucking big.”
Finished, Lloyd looks over at Jedi. “So what’s your story, kid?”
Jedi clears his throat. “My name’s Jedi Smith, I—”
Matt interrupts, “Jedi?”
“My mom, what can I say, she was a fan.”
“Could have been worse, kid— Skywalker Smith.”
Jedi smiles like he’s heard it a thousand times before. “I guess. So I study at MIT. Doing the three Ps—”
“Wait— three Ps?” This time Sophia interrupts.
“Physics, Pizza, and Porn. Hey, no poor student’s ever gonna turn down a free vacation. Someone knows we’re here, right? I mean, someone’ll find us soon?”
Jedi looks around at the team expectantly as if waiting for one of them to say, “Everything’s gonna be okay.” Nobody does.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but do I get the feeling that we all ain’t got nobody looking for us right now?” Cutter asks.
The Americans stand in embarrassed silence.
Cutter continues, “So we got ourselves a bunch of loners and losers here. This ain’t got nothing to do with no odds. Someone wanted each one of us here real bad with no one screaming missing persons.”
“So, no Mrs Cutter, then?” Matt asks.
“Fifty-six, forty-eight, three one two.”
“Your wife’s vitals?”
“My prison number, jackass. Just me”— Cutter holds up his right hand and jerks it up and down—“ and Miss Palmer now.”
“So how much time you do?”
“Five, but no crime.”
“None of my business, Cutter, but what you do the time for?”
“Weren’t you listening? I said no crime.”
Rita looks concerned. “We have a right to know. You could be a rapist or something.”
“No need for you to worry then, little lady.” Lloyd reaches into the cooler box and picks up a can.
“I think he should tell us why he went to prison.” Rita’s pissed at Lloyd. “They don’t give out jail terms for stealing a loaf of bread anymore.”
“Maybe he raped a baguette,” Matt suggests.
Rita’s turn to reach into the cooler box. “That’s not funny at all.” She pulls out the last can. It is a Pepsi. She looks over at Lloyd, who is about to open his drink. “Hey, you got the last Diet Coke.”
“So?” Lloyd shrugs.
“So, I need the sugar-free. I’ll trade.” Rita holds out her can of Pepsi, expecting Lloyd to do the trade.
“I prefer the Diet. Pepsi tastes like crap.”
“I’ve got a medical condition, asshole. I’m sugar intolerant.”
“Lady, you gotta be kidding me,” Lloyd laughs.
“Too much sugar and I get”— Rita uses her plump fingers to count off her symptoms—“ gastrointestinal distress, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and—”
Lloyd interrupts, “And really fat.”
“Hey, Lloyd,” Books says.
“Just give her the can.”
“Why should I?”
“Because we’ve got better things to do than argue over a can of brown chemical shit,” Sophia says.
“Yeah, listen to the lady,” Rita says. “We’ve got better things to do.” She still holds out her can of Pepsi, and she still expects the trade with Lloyd.
“This is fucking bullshit,” Lloyd complains.
“I’m waiting,” Rita says.
Lloyd puts the can of Diet Coke to his mouth and licks off some of the cool, refreshing beads of condensation on the outside of the can. “Lady, since I’m holding on to something that we both really want, a big pretty please coming my way from your way would be appreciated.” Lloyd holds out the can of Diet Coke toward Rita. “I’m waiting!”
“You selfish son of a bitc—” Rita drops her Pepsi and lunges at Lloyd’s outstretched hand. She tries to grab his Diet Coke. She is stronger than she looks.
Matt laughs. “Hey, we got us Diet Coke Wrestle-Off!”
Lloyd and Rita become entangled as they struggle to gain control over the Diet Coke. Some of the others try to pull Rita and Lloyd apart. Lloyd holds the Diet Coke above his head. Rita jumps up and tries to grab it. She is too short. She kicks Lloyd on his shin.
“OW, fuck, lady!” Lloyd yells.
In pain, Lloyd hops on one foot. Rita kicks him hard on his other shin. Lloyd’s hand drops and like a terrier grabbing a rat, she catches hold of his hand, then locks her teeth into his soft meaty thumb flesh.
Lloyd screams. “She bit me. She FUCKING bit me.” He loses his grip on the Diet Coke.
The Diet Coke hits the ground hard, then spins away. It comes to a rest several yards from the rest of the group.
Matt and Cutter laugh at brawl’s absurdity.
“Shut the fuck up— I’m bleeding here.” Lloyd shows off his bloody thumb. “She’s a fucking crazy blood-sucking half-breed.” He presses his good hand over the bite wound to stem the flow of blood.
Rita pants hard but she is happy with her victory and trots after the Diet Coke and picks it up. “Honey, I’m just too quick for your lazy, slow ass. Mister Big Shot, I’m a ‘great fucking lawyer.’ Well, you just lost this case”— she holds up the Diet Coke like it’s a trophy—“ to the fat girl.”
“Looks like Miss Sugar-free just whooped your ass.” Cutter laughs at Lloyd again.
“Hey, enough.” Books means it.
Jim returns from the container with a first aid kit.
Lloyd’s still mad. “Tell that to vampire woman over there.”
Jim takes Lloyd’s hand and applies a bandage around his injured thumb to stem the bleeding.
“You had that coming. You lost. Suck it up,” Books says.
Lloyd thinks about giving Books some back-talk. He looks Books up and down and figures he is not a man to be messed with and changes his mind. Defeated, he shrugs to himself and shuts up. He bends down and picks up Rita’s discarded Pepsi.
Rita tugs open the ring pull on her Diet Coke. A high-pressure jet of brown liquid erupts from the can’s small opening and drenches Rita’s collar, neck and face.
“YES! SLAM-DUNK! Thank you.” Lloyd makes a fist with his bloody, bandaged hand and pulls it down in a gotcha-like move.
Rita splutters, bending forward. “Errrrrggggh.”
As the Diet Coke drains away, her collar emits a loud, rapid, ominous beeping sound.
Rita hears it. “What’s that?”
She realizes the Diet Coke has penetrated the collar’s non-tamper proof electronics. “OH MY GOD.”
Rita’s eyes widen as the beeping continues. She is helpless as the collar’s LEDs turn red one by one. She stands still, too frightened to move.
Horrified, the Americans watch.
“Help me— please,” Rita pleads.
Sophia makes a move toward Rita. Books grabs her and holds her back. The last LED turns red. Her collar gives one final beep, then explodes— WHOMP.
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“I liked the concept and how different people were thrown together. I enjoyed the chapters from the other teams perspectives and view point.” – Julie Kay Morrison