Crissa Stone, created by Wallace Stroby, has gotten to be one of my favorite series characters for this millennium. Stone works as a professional thief, raising funds to get her lover and mentor, Wayne, out of prison. She provides a certain amount of heart to this hard and streamlined heist novel while keeping her professional cool. Both the character and her relationship are tested in Wallace Stroby’s latest, The Devil’s Share.
A collector doesn’t want to give up his ill-gotten Iraqi art, soon to be repatriated. He hires Crissa to steal it from his own convoy. She can pick her own crew, but the owner’s security consultant and war vet, Hicks, will provide the weapons and act as a chaperon on the job.
The relationship between Crissa and Hicks really makes the book. A night at a bar where they feel each other out is filled with both electricity and tension. As they work closer together, Crissa starts to question her loyalty to Wayne. Since we know to trust no one in these stories, Hicks becomes a formidable and complex ally or adversary.
Stroby hits the genre like a master craftsman, understanding the importance of brevity in the heist sub-genre. His style is concise, driving moving most of the story through action and dialogue. He keeps the emotion below the surface, creating a sense of tension in each character’s relationships. The artful hi-jacking is executed with a smooth efficiency interrupted by a couple of heart-stopping glitches and the coming aftermath tightens on its characters like a vice.
The Devil’s Share is hard-boiled heaven. Stroby gives a fresh take on the tropes we love with more depth than you might expect. The man knows how to mix his style and substance.
You can find copies of The Devil’s Share on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.