This very good debut novel is set in New Jersey and features three main protagonists, only one of whom is even a bit sympathetic. But all three are very compelling, and once you enter their world you are hooked through to the end.
Principal among the three is a young Hispanic woman named Esmeralda. She's responsible for supporting her mother and two young siblings. Her ambition is to save enough money to go to school, become a cosmetologist, and open her own upscale salon. But the truth is that, even working day and night virtually every day of the week, there's no way she'll ever be able to afford her dream.
During the day, Esmeralda works for a house cleaning service and at nights she's a hostess in a restaurant. She strikes up a friendship with a young man named Ray who also works at the restaurant and on a break one night, she mentions to Ray that one of the houses she cleans in a very upscale community is empty for a month while the wealthy owners are away at another of their homes. Having spent a great deal of time in the house, Esmeralda knows that there's a lot of loose cash, jewelry, and other such things just lying around waiting for someone to help themselves.
Ray, in turn, mentions this to a very shady character named Skooley who is just up from Florida and who is washing dishes at the restaurant. Although neither Esmeralda nor Ray are aware of it, Skooley is on the run from some Very Bad People that he has screwed over in the Sunshine State. Skooley and Ray decided to rob the house and they bring Esmeralda into the scheme to provide them the intelligence they need about the house. She is reluctant, but she sees this as the one real chance she may ever have to actually end up living her dream.
Well, the best laid plans and all of that...
Once the scheme is in motion, all sorts of complications will occur and the three would-be burglars will all be challenged in a variety of ways. It would be unfair to say any more about the plot, but it is a captivating tale that keeps you turning the pages, waiting to see how it's all going to turn out. It's a very good read and Steve Russo has a bright future ahead of him.