Just Thieves

Mysterious Book Report No. 466

By John Dwaine McKenna

Just Thieves, (Melville House, $26.99, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-61219-937-5), by Gregory Galloway, is set in an unknown corner of the United States, where a career thief and down-and- outer named “Rick” learned dishonesty from his father, a crooked building inspector.  When his girlfriend, Denise, gives birth to a baby girl, she and Rick split the sheets.  Not a very good father, with problems of his own, Rick doesn’t like the new man in Denise’s—and his daughter’s—lives, not because he’s hung up on his old girlfriend . . . but because he’s a drug addict.

Rick seeks help from a shady character known only as “Froehmer,” a longtime friend of his father, who soon takes care of the problem.  No more druggie.  Froehmer also fronts the money to put Rick through rehab, where he kicks his habit.  In order to pay him back, Rick steals tools, equipment and supplies from construction sites on demand for Froehmer, who appears to be the spider at the center of a web of deceit, crime and mayhem.  And surprise! Rick’s good at it.  He soon graduates to stealing items on demand in an ever-widening sphere of crimes influenced by the arch-criminal.  The burglaries become more and more sophisticated and Rick acquires a partner named Frank, who’s adept with locks, burglar alarms and electronic devices.  But eventually the screws get tightened on the hapless thief, a murder occurs, and things start  looking grim for the guy who seems to be the perfect dupe.  This is a surprising and racy novel with superior characterization and a surprising plot.  It’ll keep readers guessing to the very last page.

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