Steve Draves is a wheeler-dealer, a womanizer and a criminal whose shady antics somehow remain just barely legal. In contrast, he fancies himself a devoted husband, deeply in love with Betty, his wife, a good father to his twin boys, an upstanding business broker and member of the community. His con man’s wit, intelligence and ability to think fast have allowed him to amass a small fortune. It’s 1966; it’s been a good year, and Steve plans to retire when his bank account reaches a cool two million dollars or when his 34th birthday arrives three months hence, whichever comes first. He’s got a couple of sweet deals in the works that should get him there.
Mark Brightly, Steve’s old college buddy, is fascinated by Steve’s con games. When he hears of Steve’s latest deal, he is flabbergasted and a bit jealous. Over martinis, Steve happily explains to Mark how he purchased an island off the coast of Florida for one thousand dollars and resold it to Johnny Patiense, big-time mobster, for one hundred thousand. Johnny plans to turn the island into a gambling mecca to rival Las Vegas.
The deal goes sour when ditzy Deby, Steve’s sexy assistant, mixes up some paperwork. Johnny’s island is accidentally sold to another one of Steve’s unsuspecting victims. Johnny is not happy, and Steve knows his life is on the line. He has to get the island back, and quickly. To make matters worse, Johnny’s daughter, Nina, has taken a liking to Steve. She’s pushing for romance; her Dad tells Steve he better not catch him with Nina, ever. Nina is persistent. The pressure cooker is on, and Steve’s in the pot.
Just short of reaching his wealthy retirement, Steve feels things spinning out of control. He begins to lose his cool confidence. Johnny pays him a visit, accompanied by two thugs with powerful fists. His old pal, Mark Brightly, has tricks up his sleeve as well. Steve learns that Mark has been sleeping with a bevy of women whom Steve has had designs on for some time; he’s even propositioned Steve’s wife.
Steve Draves’ lifestyle is about to punch him in the gut with dire consequences. In the end, he’d sell his soul to get back those six hours past Thursday.
Jack Payne’s characters are full of heart and passion. He excels at creating sexy women like Tina, Deby, Betty, Nina and Sandy - all vivacious, fragile flowers. Each woman thinks she can read Steve Draves like a book, but the truth is she hasn’t understood the first page. Steve Draves is extremely likable in spite of his scandalous behavior and his flawed self image. He’s a con man whom you find yourself rooting for. Mike Brightly, Steve’s pathetic protégé, ends up being full of surprises. Johnny Patiense is the ultimate mobster, right out of a comic strip. Even a minor character like Fred Quimby, a fellow rider on the commuter train that Steve takes to his office, is quirky enough to be quite memorable with his skewed philosophy of life and his failure to grasp reality.
Six Hours Past Thursday manages to be a serious tale told with a large dose of humor. Steve’s visits to the One-Eyed Pussycat Lounge in search of multiple martinis and one-night stands are a constant source of amusement. Steve’s elaborate schemes, divulged to Mark Brightly, are comically cunning. Betty, Steve’s wife, is hilariously naïve and inexplicably devoted to her husband. There are one-liners throughout the book guaranteed to make you chuckle.
The author is business savvy and exhibits this in his novel as well as in the fifty-five business books he’s sold to date. Founder, editor and publisher of the newsletter Business Opportunities Digest, Jack Payne has real-world experience that he’s drawn on when fabricating the schemes of Steve Draves, lending important authenticity to his story. Hmm… perhaps it would be wise to keep an eye on Jack Payne.
This novel is vastly entertaining and a quick read. You will be enthralled until you reach the stunning conclusion. Don’t miss it!