Crissa Stone is a professional thief, and has had a very successful career for several reasons: she never works too close to home, always makes sure the crew she’s working with is reliable, and never does a job that’s rushed or undermanned. She learned these crucial golden rules from her mentor, Wayne Boudreaux.
At some point along the way Wayne also became her lover, and now he’s doing a stint in a Texas prison which he may not see the end of alive if he can’t get parole. Crissa’s been told that if the right palms are greased Wayne’s parole could be a done deal, but it’ll cost. Big. Crissa needs money, fast.
The perfect opportunity seems to land in her lap when she’s contacted about participating in a job taking down a high stakes card game in Fort Lauderdale. She thinks the timetable is tight, and wishes there was one more person in the crew, but needing the money for Wayne’s parole board hearing Crissa agrees. She should have known better than to break one of the golden rules.
What should have been a straightforward heist goes sideways when one of Crissa’s crew panics and shoots one of the card game participants. Now not only has robbery turned into murder, but as (bad) luck would have it the victim was the Son-in-Law of a Jersey mobster, who sees it as a moral imperative to avenge the killing.
Enter Eddie ‘The Saint’ Santino, who is anything but a saint. A hitman recently released from prison, Eddie is hired by the mobster to track down the triggerman and make things right. Feeling he’s owed a little something for having served his prison stint without ratting on anyone, Eddie decides to do more than just take out the triggerman. He’s going after the money Crissa’s crew got from the score, and woe be it to anyone who gets in his way.
Though this time his female protagonist is a crook not a cop, as with his last offering, the brilliant Gone ‘Til November, author Wallace Stroby has built his story around the slowly converging story lines of two equally determined, crafty, ruthless characters after a prize that only one of them can have. However, whereas Gone ‘Til November was more of a character study that just happened to take place within the framework of a crime story, Cold Shot to the Heart is a straight up, raw, old school crime caper. The staging of the heist is intricately detailed, the action comes fast and furious, the violence is brutal and unforgiving, and the dialogue crackles with authenticity.
If you’re already a Stroby fan you’ll find his latest offering to be every bit as enjoyable as his previous work, and if you’ve not read him before there’s no better place to start than with a Cold Shot to the Heart.
Cold Shot to the Heart is available from Minotaur Books (ISBN: 978-0312560256).
For more on Wallace Stroby’s insight into the New Jersey mob check out the piece he wrote for Mulholland books, “Organized Crime Writing.“