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PRINCE OF THIEVES by Chuck Hogan

PRINCE OF THIEVES

By Chuck Hogan

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-6455-X
Publisher: Scribner

The romance between a bank robber and one of his former hostages threatens both the unity and the safety of his criminal crew.

Pals Doug (“Duggy”) MacRay, Jimmy (“Jem”) Coughlin, Desmond (“Dez”) Eldon, and Freddy (“Gloansy”) Magloan, regular guys from the working-class Boston neighborhood of Charleston, pull off a successful bank robbery in busy Kenmore Square. This is not a onetime thing, but the quartet’s regular business, approached with measured professionalism. Even when unexpected glitches interfere with the well-planned heist, cool heads prevail. Briefly taking pretty young branch manager Claire Keesey hostage, they get away clean, leaving nary a clue behind. (Masks prevent identification.) The twist here is that the robbers are average citizens with family ties and otherwise unremarkable lives, while the FBI special agent who pursues them, Adam Frawley, is the obsessed workaholic. Doug, meanwhile, does the unthinkable: smitten, he locates Claire, pretends to meet her for the first time, and asks her out. Their romance blossoms even as she, completely clueless about Doug’s original interaction with her, remains the main witness to the crime, receiving regular visits from Frawley. Their relationship too takes on a whiff of romance, though less explicitly. Tension arises among the thieving friends over the tandem decisions to sit on their loot and to back away from further bank jobs for a while, although they do hold up a movie theater in nearby Braintree. Frawley’s dogged probing yields some leads; the guys feel the heat and excoriate Claire, oblivious of Doug’s new connection. Matters come to a head when Jem learns of the relationship; he and Frawley squeeze the pair from opposite sides.

Hogan (The Blood Artists, 1998, etc.) writes with cool precision and a great eye for detail, progressively building suspense. Still, too much Doug and Claire and too little of the other thieves unbalances the story and gives it a disappointingly soft center.