Cross and double-cross in Europe as a couple of lowlife operators meet their match in a spoiled little rich girl.
Will and Justine, the grifters in Holden’s switchback sixth novel (The Narcissist’s Daughter, 2005, etc.), think they have found the perfect prey in 19-year-old Darcy Arlen from Ohio, who is on an all-expenses-paid tour of European art and architecture. But Darcy has the measure of them and chooses to go along with their scams and schemes just for the thrill of it. She steals Will away from Justine and has no problems with shoplifting, even a bit of smuggling, given her kleptomania and the sexual excitement it generates. Moving from Rome to Venice and then Athens, the odd trio end up in Crete, carrying a parcel for Justine’s menacing ex-husband Maurice, while being tailed by Darcy’s father’s private detective, Matthew. There’s an element of coarse sexuality to the tale which intensifies when Justine forces Darcy into a kind of willing physical submission, then delivers her to Maurice’s house in Matala where Darcy is destined to be sold into Arabian sexual slavery. But a standoff on the beach allows Justine and Darcy to escape together for a life of S&M, with the Arabs, Maurice and Matthew in eternal pursuit.
What begins as an efficient noir-ish drama goes overheatedly off the rails.