Cold Shot to the Heart by Wallace Stroby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When a high stakes poker game holdup goes south and a man ends up dead, career criminal Crissa Stone and her partners find themselves in deep trouble. Turns out the dead man was the son in law of a gangster and fresh out of jail Eddie Saint is hired to find his killer. Unfortuantely, Eddie doesn't live up to his name and decides the job isn't enough; he wants the money from the poker heist too...
George Pelecanos was raving about the latest book in this serious on the Twitter so I figured I should start at the beginning.
Crissa Stone is a conflicted character and was by far the most interesting part of the book. She's got a lover in jail and a daughter that is being raised by her cousin. She wants to get out of the game but can't seem to make that one last big score. She's like Richard Stark's Parker with estrogen. And feelings. I liked that she wasn't a cold blooded killer.
Eddie the Saint was a suitably vile villain, an unhinged psychopath that makes the lead characters seem saintly (heh) by comparison. He was on stage for about a page before I couldn't wait to see him get killed.
The writing reminds me of a wordier Richard Stark, the prose not quite as punchy but still good. If the Westlake estate hired someone to write more Parker books, I think Stroby could take on the job.
However, there was something I didn't like. For a career criminal, Crissa sure makes some stupid mistakes. When someone double-crosses you and attempts to kill you, do not leave them alive! The other mistake she made was not being ready when Saint showed up an hour early for their meet with murder in his heart. Criminals lie, lady!
Other than that, I enjoyed it enough to want to read the next book in the series. Three cautiously optimistic stars.