Wallace Stroby introduced us to heist woman Crissa Stone last year in Cold Shot To The Heart. The book earned Stroby some of his best reviews. Now he brings Crissa back in Kings Of Midnight, a more than worthy successor to the first book.
Crissa is still trying to steal enough money to grease the political wheels necessary to spring her lover and mentor from prison. The book opens with a slam-bang ATM robbery. When her cohorts argue after the job, guns are drawn and it goes bad and bloody, putting Crissa on the run. A contact hooks her up with Benny Roth, a former gangster turned stool pigeon. Benny thinks he knows where five million from the famed Lutfhansa Heist (Remember the big score in Goodfellas?) is located. Two problems – it’s in the possession of a notorious wiseguy, and Benny’s not completely sure about it. Desperate, Crissa takes on a score and partner she can’t completely trust.
Even with its inventive set pieces and sharp action, it’s Stroby’s gift of character and realistic tone that make the book stand out from other heist yarns. He doesn’t give us complex, stopwatch-slick capers. The robberies always seem clunky and messy and pretty low-tech. Even the professionals don’t come off completely professional. His criminals are working class guys who speak in a dialogue reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and George V. Higgins. In Stroby’s world, it’s not cool being a criminal. It’s these imperfect people that give an authenticity and pathos to a wonderful pulp premise.