A young ex-con struggles for a better life even though he knows the odds are against him.
Ever since childhood, Ray’s been convinced he’s basically worthless. “We’re just a couple of low-lifes,” says his best friend Manny. “Guys like us…we get locked up, we get killed…we knew it going in.” Juvie and the state pen are already part of Ray’s short history, and his future is grimly predictable. Still, Ray and Manny have moments when they think they are pretty slick. Over time they’ve developed a specialty con, pretending to be DEA guys in order to rip off carefully selected drug dealers. By keeping the targets small and the take modest, they reduce retaliation to a manageable risk—until the day it isn’t. Quite by accident, and to their horror, they connect with a six-figure score. This kind of money, they know, will be missed by people determined to retrieve it. As a result of these people’s efforts, a severely injured Ray winds up in the hospital, where he makes a last-ditch effort to rethink his life. “You can’t be better than you are,” his deadbeat father has always insisted. But there’s a young woman who keeps telling him he can be.
An impressive debut by a writer savvy enough to understand that the way to a reader’s heart is often as not through flawed characters.