In this crime-fiction sequel, legendary criminals Bonnie and Clyde go undercover to prevent a landmark dam from being blown up before it’s completed.
In their previous novel in this series, Hays and McFall (Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road, 2017, etc.) presented an alternative-history scenario: What if the U.S government faked the outlaws’ 1934 deaths and recruited the duo as uniquely talented operatives? Now their handler, Sal, has a new assignment for them. Two murders, and further evidence, suggest that someone is trying to sabotage what will become the Hoover Dam (still called the “Boulder Dam” in 1935). Likely suspects include union members, anarchists, or mobsters, for different reasons, but whoever’s responsible, Sal says, “the dam has to hold.” Assuming the aliases of Brenda and Clarence Prentiss, Bonnie and Clyde go undercover and get jobs—she as a secretary in the dam’s hiring office and he as a water-truck driver. Nothing about this task is harder for them than working for a living; in a running joke, Clyde destroys his alarm clock every morning by throwing it across the room. Hot on the trail of the culprits (and hot for each other), the two dodge lawmen, operatives from Murder Inc., and other dangers. Just as importantly, their consciences grow a few sizes, too. As in Resurrection Road, Hays and McFall evoke time and place well, as in their descriptions of the dam’s brand-new yet scruffy company town: “nearly identical cottages lined up like a battalion of weary desert soldiers, each standing at shabby attention over a tiny front yard of gravel and a few cactus plants.” Though set in the past, the story’s politics are fresh and timely; Jimmy Hall, a union organizer, notes that “We got some things to work through still, like making sure we’re inclusive of all folks and not just white folks, and not just men.” The word “inclusive” feels a bit too modern, but the sentiments are evergreen. Readers will find Bonnie and Clyde to be great company, and the novel’s framing story (the widowed Bonnie’s 1984 recollections) gives their relationship an extra layer of poignancy.
A crisply written, well-researched, and thoroughly entertaining romance/thriller/mystery.