Professional thief Crissa Stone isn't quite sure why she has agreed to orchestrate a four-way-split cash robbery from drug dealers in Detroit, but it seems she's still in "the life." Their operation succeeds, until one of the foursome fatally double-crosses the others. Crissa makes it out alive, but she's morally committed to delivering the late Larry's cut (a hefty $80K) to his family in Florida. A corrupt ex-cop learns about the missing cash, and he marshals his way through a number of players until he learns Crissa's identity and pursues her with a vengeance. Meanwhile, Crissa discovers that Larry's family isn't particularly likable and wonders if her good deed will be wasted. VERDICT Adept at stand-alones (Gone 'til November) and series (this is number three after Kings of Midnight), Stroby transports readers through his spare, believable dialog—making the story race by like a runaway train. Even though this plot is fairly predictable, Crissa is compelling, not unlike a female Parker (Richard Stark, aka Donald E. Westlake). Elmore Leonard would approve.
Stroby’s Crissa Stone is emerging as one of the more compelling female criminals in mystery fiction. In her third outing (after 2012’s Kings of Midnight), she once again displays bravery, cunning, loyalty, and a big heart matched by a willingness to embrace the violence her lifestyle necessitates. In Detroit, careless drug lord Marquis Johnson’s sloppy operation offers a tempting take of up to $500,000. When the heist hits a snag that results in the deaths of Crissa’s two ad hoc partners, Charlie Glass and Larry Black, she heads for Florida with half the loot. There she hopes to find Black’s family to share bad news and some of the money, but ruthless ex-cop Frank Burke is following the same tracks. As Burke leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, Crissa puts her life on the line to keep Black’s widow and little girl safe. Stroby nails this taut, gripping contest between well-matched opponents. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Dec.)
“This third Crissa Stone novel is delivered in propulsive prose and smart dialogue reminiscent of Robert B. Parker or Elmore Leonard and laid on with the same kind of dry brush. For fans of noir, this is among the best of the current breed.” Hallie Ephron, The Boston Globe
“Stroby's Crissa Stone is emerging as one of the more compelling female criminals in mystery fiction…Stroby nails this taut, gripping contest between well-matched opponents.” Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
“Crissa's third is another superior thriller--fast, tough and nasty--without a single extra sentence.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“It's a familiar plot: slimeball hires another slimeball to get his money back. The shootouts have been staged in many a gangster--and western--tale. But when they're done as skillfully as this, who cares?” Booklist
“[Stroby] has a great grasp of pace, which is a terrific talent. At no point in the novel does Stroby give the reader a chance to wander off and wonder. You just keep turning pages. The years of journalism show in his economy; there's not an extra word, a wasted thought.” [New Jersey] Star-Ledger
“I consider Stroby to be one of the heirs to the great Elmore Leonard in style, substance and sheer entertainment.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinal (One of the Best Mysteries of 2013)
An easy score for professional thief Crissa Stone (Kings of Midnight, 2012, etc.) and her associates turns out to be anything but. Detroit drug lord Marquis Jackson is so confident that nobody's going to mess with his drop-off for dirty cash that he takes minimal precautions to safeguard it or even to keep it secret. He doesn't reckon with Cordell King, an underling who's just old and smart enough to share information about the cash with Crissa, her veteran colleague Larry Black, and Cordell's own cousin Charlie Glass. Though Crissa and company don't have much time to plan the heist, it goes off smooth as silk, until it doesn't, and Crissa is on the run with a lot more money than she expected to be carrying and a determination to deliver half of it--$80,000--to Claudette, a stranger in Florida, and her daughter, Haley, 6. The women don't exactly bond, and Crissa's particularly uneasy about Claudette's current boyfriend, Roy Mapes, a meth addict who's seriously in debt to a pair of lowlife dealers. Back in Detroit, Marquis Jackson, who's not about to take the theft lying down, offers ex-cop Frank Burke $10,000 if he can recover the loot before Jackson's own confederates, who are better enforcers than detectives. Burke proves just as violent as Jackson's underlings but a lot less loyal. He dutifully tracks down the survivors of the heist but executes them as quickly as he finds them and plots to keep the entire proceeds for himself. That plan will inevitably bring him up against Crissa and that Florida family, and when it does, sparks will fly, along with bullet casings of every caliber. Crissa's third is another superior thriller--fast, tough and nasty--without a single extra sentence.