Cruel Summer

Image. Jul. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781534316430. $34.99. Rated: Teen+. Mys
In the summer of 1988, vicious career criminal Teeg Lawless becomes infatuated with Jane, a mysterious con artist drawn to his ferocity, much to the chagrin of Teeg’s 16-year-old son, Ricky. Unnerved at seeing his father embrace something like domesticity, Ricky becomes increasingly reckless and erratic, alienating best friend Leo, a young thief who prides himself on his overly cautious approach to criminal activity. Teeg enlists Leo’s father to help him pull off a major heist he believes will provide him and Jane with a fresh start. But when Jane and Ricky form a bond, and a private detective obsessed with saving Jane from a life on the run arrives in town, all involved are set on a collision course that can only end in tragedy.
VERDICT The powerhouse creative team of Brubaker and Phillips (Pulp) combine elements of noir and coming-of-age stories in this psychologically and emotionally complex drama about desperate men and women daring to strive for better lives in a violent world where hope and love are dangerous liabilities.
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