Fans of A Cold Shot to the Heart won’t be disappointed when master thief Crissa Stone returns in Stroby’s latest thriller. Her mission is still to get enough money together to finance a bribe for the parole of long-time love Wayne Boudreaux, serving a hard seven in a Texas prison. When her latest heist goes hinky, partners facing off with harsh words and guns blazing, Crissa finds herself with no more allies from the old days and a pile of cash to launder before turning it over to the legal counsel that is finessing the bribe through the Texas parole board.
Against her better instincts, Stone is forced to trust the untrustworthy with predictable results as a swaggering gang of brawny thugs tries to take advantage of her vulnerable situation. Burned for the stake, Crissa walks away, leaving a roomful of crooks to pick up their own pieces, that confrontation no doubt to be continued down the line. Out of ideas and desperate to make some cash, a contact from the old days puts Stone in touch with former gangster Benny Roth, once a bit player in the great ten million dollar 1978 Lufthansa heist, none of the booty ever recovered. Out of the game for a long time, once the news reaches Benny that Joey Dio has died, he grudgingly admits he might have some idea where Joey stashed his split. Of course, others have been waiting for Joey Dio to check out as well, ready to make a move on the prize. It’s a matter of who gets there first.
In sore need of a large score, Crissa agrees to temporarily partner with Benny, even though he has recently been visited by a violent group of ex-mobsters determined to prod Benny’s memory by any means necessary. After a near and bloody escape, Benny gets on board with Stone, but the pair expects an eventual confrontation with Benny’s pals hoping to get to the score first. As expected in a Stroby novel, the action is fast and furious. The old days may be in the past, but these guys haven’t changed their worldview or their way of doing business—brutal and final. It takes every bit of Crissa’s skill to stay one step ahead, always outnumbered and outgunned in this scenario. But Stone wouldn’t be such a great protagonist if she didn’t come through in spite of the odds, albeit a little battered by wear and tear.
Stroby captures the gritty underworld reality of old-school mobsters caught in a contemporary world, the network of criminal enterprise that sustains the lifestyle and the veneer of propriety that masks illegal activity from zealous law enforcement. There is no doubt that Crissa Stone is tired—tired of running from job to job, missing Boudreaux and yearning to settle down away from the fray: “There’d been too much blood lately, too many bodies.” She’s nearly at the finish line, this last score all she needs to reach her goal. Given the incentive, there’s no way Stone will allow these brutal killers to defeat her or Benny. She may be a thief, but she’s a professional. When the dust clears, there’s another tough jolt of reality on the horizon, but next time Crissa will likely meet it on home ground.