Dale creates an impressive cast of truly abominable characters. Their vile language, which includes some racial slurs, may be discomfiting to some readers. At certain times in the book, particularly during the heist, it is difficult to keep track of the characters, since they share many similar personality traits. However, Joshua’s inner struggles around continuing in this line of work make him distinct, and his bittersweet memories of his father, which he often revisits, give insight into how he became a professional criminal.
The aftermath of the heist leads to more trouble for Joshua, including murder, but the tension is sometimes bogged down by confusing prose (“Stiffening his legs and his shoulders, he cut the water like a pencil”). Craving some comfort, Joshua increasingly pursues Julia, even though she has a boyfriend and shows no romantic interest in Joshua. This side of the story is more engaging than the one about Joshua’s criminal activity, and its conclusion feels abrupt, though it’s appropriate for the characters. The explorations of Joshua’s interpersonal relationships are the book’s most interesting and vivid sections, and will satisfy readers who want more than just action from their thrillers.
Takeaway: This gritty tale will appeal to fans of heist thrillers peppered with romance and tragedy.
Great for fans of James Sallis’s Drive, W.R. Burnett’s Asphalt Jungle
Design and typography: B-
Marketing copy: B+