Minotaur Books, $25.99, 263 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-06575-9
I have a theory about book covers that goes like this: The size of the author’s name is in inverse proportion to their fame. In other words, popular best-selling writers like Michael Connolly and James Lee Burke will have their names emblazoned on the cover in much larger type than the title. My favorite example of this is a new novel with TOM CLANCY, who’s been dead for quite some time now, taking up half of the cover space, followed on the bottom with a book title and another author’s name. I’m assuming that that’s because the dead writer’s estate and the publisher want to keep cashing in on the Clancy franchise for as long as we’ll keep buying them. A shame, on them and on us, because it’s bait and switch in my opinion, as well as a diminution of the writer’s talent and legacy for purposes of avarice, greed and cupidity. Now that I got that off my chest, I’m happy to point out that although this week’s author is growing in popularity, the book title is still larger than his name, which shows respect for the writer’s craft.
The Devil’s Share, by Wallace Stroby is his seventh novel and features his Crissa Stone character. She’s a professional criminal with her own set of warped ethics which allow her to operate as an outlaw without any of the moral implications the rest of us observe. She’s an anti-hero who thumbs her nose at all of society’s conventions, yet manages somehow to endear herself to the reader . . . a testament to the writer’s immense, and ever-expanding talent.
In The Devil’s Share, Crissa, who’s been laying low for the past year, contracts with a crooked art collector-dealer to hijack a truckload of ancient Assyrian sculptures that were looted from Iraq after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. The collector has plans of double-crossing the new Iraqi regime and the insurance company by having his own shipment stolen—a simple, low-risk takeback with no one hurt and no one wiser—leaving only the insurance company holding the bag. But what starts out as an easy “give-up” turns into a screw-up and Crissa finds herself and her team being hunted by a paramilitary team of professional killers. The tension drips from every page as the spare and precise dialogue moves the plot along at a breakneck pace. Read this one and see for yourself why Wallace Stroby is one of the hottest young authors to come along for quite some time . . . and now’s your chance to get to know him before his name gets as big as a house on the cover!