Noir fans will find plenty to like in The Devil’s Share, the fourth book in Wallace Stroby’s series featuring professional thief Crissa Stone. It’s a classic of the genre and a perfect example of just how badly things can go wrong for anyone, even an obsessive planner like Crissa, who picks up on any tiny deviation from her carefully organized heists.
As for the theft proposed in Devil, what could possibly go wrong? Stone is working with a wealthy art collector named Cota, who plundered Iraqi art treasures from their native country but has agreed to return them in exchange for the promise that he’ll suffer no legal consequences. Now, however, he’s found a secret buyer for the problematic art and hires Crissa to steal the lot back while they’re on their way home—all the better to end up in his hands again.
Crissa asks all the right questions but hasn’t quite planned for Hicks, Cota’s head of security, and his coterie of ex-Marines, who have their own code of conduct, not to mention their own plans as to how this operation should go. She gets blindsided by the ruthlesss Hicks, barely escaping with her life after a confrontation in the Nevada desert. Crissa’s carefully honed competence must kick into high gear as she works to outwit her adversaries before they can eliminate her.
Crissa is poised to join the elite ranks of literary “bad guys” of the caliber created by Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark), and she doesn’t have a lot of sympathy to waste on folks who try to find her “redeeming” virtues. She is who she is, neither charming nor humorous, but in brief, poignant scenes throughout the book we see glimpses of her troubled, lonely life and the people with whom she clearly possesses a bond of loyalty—a lover/mentor who’s in jail for the long haul; her friend and partner-in-crime, Chase; and her daughter, who has no clue about Crissa—all those whom she loves but cannot ever really reach.
This taut story has no wasted words, and it packs a singular punch.