Monday, February 28, 2011

Book: Cold Shot to the Heart, by Wallace Stroby (2011)

Crime novels don’t come terser than this one. Wallace Stroby doesn’t waste words.

Crissa Stone is a first-rate thief. Something of a mess in her personal life – she drinks too much wine since her lover/mentor went down for a bid in a Texas prison, and she can’t completely walk away from the young daughter she’s given up – but on the job she’s peerless. Even when circumstances force her to go after a score she’s not sure about, she keeps her eyes wide open.

It doesn’t help. The heist goes south and soon she’s being stalked by Eddie “The Saint” Santiago, a stone killer recently released from prison himself. He’s every bit as coolly competent as Crissa, but nowhere near as human. A lot of bodies will fall to bring these two professionals together, and when they collide it isn’t going to be pretty.

The action is lean, but there’s still room for layers of complexity; even the heist that’s not what it appears to be is not what it appears to be. Stroby finds new wrinkles in the familiar milieu of New Jersey organized crime, and he explains how here. The book moves fast and without mercy, like a chill wind through a bullet hole.