Asher’s (It’s a Calamity, Jane, 2015, etc.) signature character, “bad-ass grafter gal” Olivia, resurfaces in theme-park mecca Orlando, Florida, this time to recruit a former mark for help in conning a millionaire.
Jack Maxwell, a former “big-time hustler…and part-time scammer,” is currently the discontented manager of a faux Irish bar. Years before, he introduced Olivia to the life, but she ended up scamming him for about $15,000 before she disappeared. Now, she’s back with Jillian, an enigmatic and mostly silent partner, and needs a couple more players for a plan that involves “High yield, low risk. No cops. Some millionaire….Twenty percent each.” The millionaire: Jerry Mallore. The pitch: a real estate deal. To reveal more would be criminal, but Asher deftly moves “from the basic to the complex” without the reader feeling cheated when the final twists unfurl. As the con goes down, time shifts wring maximum payoff from scenes that alternate between planning, execution, and the inevitable best-laid-plans fiasco. Asher’s spare writing has real flair, as in a confrontation with unforeseen rival scammers: “Grant took a step toward them, trying to intimidate. But that wouldn’t work. Olivia and Jillian both stood confident. Easy to do, Olivia feeling her Glock 39 resting against her back, stuck into the waist of her dress skirt.” Asher is a gripping storyteller; what he leaves to the imagination (in one tense episode, for instance, a “scuffle” among the principals) is as compelling as the con’s shifting and uncertain alliances. Dialogue has real snap, too, as when Olivia first sees Jack in his themed-bar costume. “My, oh my, look at you. You’ve gone and gotten yourself all Irish.” Readers don’t need to be familiar with the characters’ previous exploits—Olivia Jane Doe (2013) and Damage Day, Fla (2014)—to be thoroughly entertained by this new caper. But newcomers who, like Jack, love “watching Olivia do her thing” will surely want to go back and catch up on what they missed.
Olivia sums up the richly readable appeal: “Sinning. In such a magical, wholesome place. Good stuff.”