Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Can't Miss Scheme Goes Badly Wrong in This Taut Thriller from Glen Erik Hamilton

Van Shaw is an ex-Army Ranger and the grandson of a career criminal who taught him all the tricks of the trade. But Shaw is trying to stay on the straight and narrow these days. He's working a part-time job and attempting to rebuild the family home in Seattle. Money is tight, though; taxes are due, and Shaw is in danger of losing the house to the tax collector before he can even finish rebuilding it.

Given these circumstances, Shaw is especially vulnerable when a terminally ill ex-con, fresh out of the pen, tempts him with a deal that seems just too good to be true. The ex-con, who was an acquaintance of Shaw's deceased grandfather, claims to know the location of a large stash of gold that was hidden in office building by a thief who couldn't ever get back to it. The building is abandoned and about to be demolished, and the ex-con insists that he and Shaw could waltz into the building and walk right out with the gold, leaving no one the wiser.

The ex-con needs the younger Shaw, because the gold is in a safe that was welded into the floor of the building. The ex-con can't crack the safe, but he's sure that Shaw can. Badly in need of the money he could score from the job, Shaw agrees, although he's very skeptical of the notion that $4 million in gold has simply been abandoned and forgotten.

And, of course, he's right. 

The fundamental rule that any bent guy should learn right off the bat is that if a scheme sounds too good to be true, it always is! That said, if people in crime novels ever did the smart, sensible thing, there would be very few crime novels. In this case, the gold is there, all right, but the second Shaw cracks the safe, all hell breaks loose, and Shaw is going to have to spend the next three hundred and fifty pages trying to get out from under the shitstorm he's unleashed upon himself.

This is a gripping story, and Van Shaw makes an attractive, if flawed, protagonist. Hamilton writes cleanly and knows how to move a plot along. You might find yourself raising an eyebrow at the plausibility of some of the twists and turns in the book, but it's a fun ride and if you go with the flow, you'll be well entertained.

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