A chance encounter, a new chance for a real life, forced into one last job…
What price would you put on a second chance?
When Alex Cassidy and Diane Alison meet by chance at a party in Princeton, New Jersey, there are instant sparks. Both are single parents living in wealthy suburbia, independent, highly competent and seemingly settled in their lives. She runs a successful catering business. He’s part of a crew that robs banks, casinos and jewellery stores around the world. Neither realises initially that their lives have overlapped before, or that their shared history and burgeoning relationship will come to threaten everything they love. As Alex prepares for one final, daunting job, he discovers that he’s not the only one with secrets — and that both of them are playing for the highest stakes imaginable.
Love and Theft is a very good crime novel. Complete with exciting heists and elaborate operations, it is populated by interesting and well-rounded characters. I really enjoyed this.
Love and Theft kicks off with an audacious robbery in Las Vegas. Cleverly and perfectly executed, it kicks off a series of events that will see Alex Cassidy’s life upended. Parish portions out details from Alex’s past over the course of the novel, gradually painting a full picture of his quiet, highly competent thief’s character and life. He’s an interesting protagonist: calm and cool on the surface, but often in turmoil under the surface. He’s not a James Bond-type character: he makes mistakes; while he is violence-averse (it’s more efficient to avoid it), he can be ruthless when necessary. He’s struggling with guilt over the long-ago death of his childhood best friend. When Diane walks into his life, this pain resurfaces. In fact, the ghosts of his past play a large role in the events in this novel.
After the initial heist, events inevitably spiral out of Alex’s and his crew’s control. Despite his desire to leave his life of crime behind, as well as a strong new desire to make a real life for himself — one with a family, stability, and a lack of danger — he is drawn into an even more dangerous job, one he cannot refuse, and one with potentially deadly consequences for his family and friends. No matter how honourable he may try to be, no matter how much he wants to go legit, the world he inhabits has little time for such concerns.
“This is a fucking nightmare.”
“No, there’s no logic to a nightmare. This is a transaction. An unfortunate transaction, but a transaction nonetheless. Do your part. Expect that he’ll do his…”
Parish is a very good writer. The novel moves along at a very good clip, but never felt rushed. Maybe some of the ending could have been slowed down a little bit, but given what was happening I doubt anyone would have slowed down their reading — I zipped through Love and Theft in just a couple of sittings. The characters are very well drawn, and their lives and interactions are engaging and interesting throughout. Learning about Alex’s past was interesting, and especially his less-than-smooth entry into a life of (high) crime. His budding relationship with Diane was very well done, too — it’s both hesitant and urgent, sweet and confounding.
A very good crime novel, and one that is as interested in the characters as it is the action. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, and also fans of movies like Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, and Heist. Clever, well-written, and with intense action, this ticked a lot of boxes for me.
Stan Parish’s Love and Theft is out now, published by Faber in the UK and Doubleday in North America.
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Review copy received via NetGalley