The still-unsolved 1990 robbery of the Gardner Museum gets a fictional investigation in a grittily realistic novel from Hosp (Innocence, 2007, etc.).
Street kid turned lawyer Scott Finn doesn’t care about artwork or the art of stealing it; he just wants to get enough information about who ratted out a supposedly failsafe insurance scam so he can plea-bargain his client, petty career criminal Devon Malley, out of the penalties usually involved in getting caught in a Newberry Street emporium at midnight with a half-million-dollar armful of designer clothes. Oh, and the attorney also finds himself saddled with a house guest: Devon’s tough 14-year-old daughter Sally. Finn’s partners, petite recent law-school grad Lissa and hulking former cop Koz, think he’s crazy to take on the girl. Finn agrees—except that he remembers when he was a hungry, unwanted kid with nowhere to go. Reasoning it’s only for a short time, he minds Sally, but pretty soon everyone’s minding him, including a pair of homicidal IRA killers, a couple of detectives, who can’t decide whether or not they hate each other, and some federal types who want to solve the art crime of the century. (It turns out Devon was involved.) Hosp also weaves fugitive mobster Whitey Bulger into his fictional tale of a crook in over his head and a lawyer who wants to give a kid a break, but none of the real-life elements make the thin plot any more plausible. The author obviously knows the criminal-justice system, and he flexes that knowledge in passages that merely pad the story line. Hosp has a good eye for character, however, and creates some promising ones that lead to an unusual detective pairing and an unconventional love story. In the end, it’s the people, not the plot, who redeem the book.
Only comes alive when the author explores the characters and their relationships.