Monday, April 22, 2013

Review of The Perfect Crime by Les Edgerton (Stonegate Ink, 2011)

Charles ‘Reader’ Kincaid is a career criminal and psychopath killer with the perfect plan to net millions at the expense of C.J. St Ives, a private banker.  All he needs to do is assemble the right equipment, keep his booze-hound partner, Eddie, on the straight-and-narrow, and stick to his plan.  The first jag in his perfect crime is to kill Jack Fogarty, a specialist electronics dealer whose brother, Grady, is a retired cop who vows to track Jack’s killer down whatever the cost.  Trailing Reader from Ohio to New Orleans, Grady hooks up with a beautiful animal welfare officer and another retired cop-turned-bar owner who still has contacts on the local force.  Reader soon becomes aware of his shadow but presses ahead with his plan, confident that Grady is an irritant that is easily dealt with.  In turn, Grady starts to piece together Reader’s plan and to hatch his own designed to exact a non-judicial form of justice.

The key to The Perfect Crime is the plot, which is clever and well executed, with a couple of nice feints and twists.  Edgerton not only envisages the perfect heist, but he interweaves three, competing perfect plans each of which is not quite as perfect as its executioner thinks, pitching the protagonists against each other in the process -- the hapless, smarmy C.J. St Ives intent on ripping off his own bank, ‘Reader’ Kincaid who desires the millions in drug money being laundered by St Ives’ bank, and Grady Fogarty who wants revenge for his brother’s death at the hands of Kincaid and a better life for himself after years of poorly rewarded toil.  It’s a compelling storyline that hooks the reader in and keeps the pages turning to the nicely resolved ending.  The storytelling itself is quite workmanlike and the characterisation somewhat routine and cliche at times, with only Veronica, a retired local cop, breaking the mould.  I inwardly groaned when a beautiful, young woman falls for Grady after a brief conversation; does every fifty something year old retired cop in the US snag women half their age?  Regardless, it's the smart plot that makes this a book worth reading -- and which leaves you wondering if you could envisage and execute the perfect crime. 

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