Time seems to be closing in on Crissa Stone (“crime fiction’s best bad girl”), a professional thief who works with a specially selected team, each member carefully vetted through a third party for a job, then dispersing without further interaction. It is a successful formula that has worked consistently for Crissa and her various partners-in-crime. Sladden, an “OG”
who finds it safer now to work as a go-between, puts each venture in place with the appropriate contacts, happy to make his cut without the risk the others face. A back-story ties Stone to this lucrative line of work, her chosen profession since eighteen. Mentored by the best, she has developed an emotional investment that is strictly private, protected by layers of misinformation, but certain needs demand the occasional cash infusion. Her last job ended badly- with injuries to herself and fellow thief Bobby Chance--a harsh reminder of a basic tenet of their craft: “If you can’t put together the right team, then your best-laid plans can turn into a nightmare.” The truth of this statement will be permanently etched in Crissa’s mind at the end of the next criminal venture.
Emil Cota, a wealthy art collector in Los Angeles, Stone travels to meet and listen to his proposal: the theft of valuable Iraqi artifacts soon to be repatriated to their country of origin. Forced to return the booty to the country from which it was stolen, Cota has devised a plan to hijack the artifacts while in transit through the desert to the nearest port, avoiding suspicion that he is anything but cooperative, the anonymous hijackers having no ties to him or his business. Already negotiating with a buyer for the soon-to-be-stolen antiquities, Cota is doubling his profit and recovering his investment. The art collector specifically requests Stone on his team because of her reputation for flawless planning, the details of a heist the difference between success and failure when the changeover must be precisely timed and executed: “Ah, the details and that selfsame devil that goes along with them. Isn’t that the holy all of it?” The only caveat: Stone must consent to work with Cota’s man on the job, Randall Hicks, an ex-military mercenary and another man of his choosing.
Though Crissa usually plans the whole job and handpicks the team she will use, this job is a way to score easy money, albeit a flat fee, all of which she settles with Cota the night she meets him in LA. Besides herself, Crissa will use Bobby Chance, now recovered from his injuries, and two others from their network chosen for their particular skills, the whole event planned down to the minute, ordnance and vehicles to be provided by Cota and Hicks. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Crissa Stone vehicle if something didn’t go wrong, the scenario further complicated by an impulsive one-night stand with the dangerous but attractive Hicks. With the usual precautions--changed names, IDs, travel documents, and personal information shielded by layers of obfuscation common to criminal enterprise, the team comes together, pulling off the job exactly as planned--with one slight but critical adjustment at the last minute.
Instinctively, Stone senses another agenda in play, barely enough time left to regroup her faction of the team before intuiting how radically the operation has shifted. As expected, Stroby never disappoints, from the setup of an intricate job to the devious complications, usually bloody and often fatal. This time the consequences are serious. Stone faces a decision she has put off too long, bone-weary and exhausted by a grueling encounter with an ex-military death squad as well as her own wily adversary. It’s time for Crissa to take a break, reassess her options, and consider how long this way of life can last before it kills her. This latest caper has nearly undone the resourceful Crissa Stone, but who really believes Stroby is ready to retire a fascinating character always one move ahead of anyone trying to remove her from the game?