MYSTERY

Blacktop Wasteland

Flatiron: Macmillan. Jul. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781250252685. $26.99. THRILLER.
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Beauregard “Bug” Montage was the best wheelman in town, but after his last score, he quit the business and bought an auto repair shop. He’s married with three children, and he promised his wife that their children’s daddy was going to be around for the long haul—no prison, no tombstone. Then another auto shop opens up. Bug’s Black, the other guy’s white, and Bug is losing money hand over fist. The bills don’t stop, though: the kids’ glasses and dental work, college tuition for his oldest, 30 big ones by the end of the month or they’ll boot his mother out of her nursing home. Enter Ronnie Sessions, fresh out of prison and looking for a score. Bug doesn’t want to play, but if this job comes off, his share will be 70 to 80 large. From this point on, we’re in Elmore Leonard land: Ronnie’s crew screws up, the robbery goes south, and a truly scary guy appears out of nowhere to pressure them into another heist, after which he plans to retire them permanently.
VERDICT Bug’s got a conscience not typical of the thriller genre, but other than that, this novel recalls almost perfectly the classic heist thriller in the vein of Richard Stark’s “Parker” books. It’ll go like hot cakes.

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