A debut thriller that hits the road with a cast of characters only Charles Addams could love, all of them in hot pursuit of $750,000 skimmed off the top of a Vegas blackjack table. “Allison Willoughby had the universe figured out by the time she was twenty-five, the last six years serving only to reinforce her understanding.” Which basically means: the girl just refuses to learn. The latest example is Allison’s discovery of her boyfriend Boyd Dobbins in flagrante with a woman a good deal older and less’shall we say?—appealing than herself. Some mysteries are just too disgusting to work out, so Allison does the normal thing and blows town. But, unbeknownst to her, Boyd’s real lust had been financial rather than carnal: a blackjack dealer at a Vegas casino, he had been embezzling table receipts with the connivance of his boss Madeleine DeCarlo, and Maddy had demanded that part of her cut be paid, well, in kind. Not that Boyd is any kind of angel, of course, but the fact is that Allison leaves him in deep trouble by disappearing, since she unknowingly takes with her the only key Boyd has to recovering the loot from its Cayman Island home. This makes Maddy mad as hell, of course, since she naturally suspects that Boyd double-crossed her. She teams up with her unsavory friend Gunther, a Mafia dropout who has discovered some inventive uses for Drano, and tries to get the truth out of Boyd. Fortunately, Boyd has the help of Krystal Lyte, a Vegas call-girl with a heart of gold and a knack for dropping by just in the nick of time. The two of them soon head of in pursuit of Allison—a chase that leads through the febrile wastes of Texas into the humid wastes of Yazoo City, Mississippi, with Maddy and Gunther never far behind. Taut prose, good action, and a crisp pace add up to a good read: Hodge draws characters with the texture of Daumier—and the imagination of LeFanu.