A stripper on the lam with a cache of cocaine and a pile of money serves as the ready-set-go signal in this Vancouver-set comic thriller.
The absconding peeler is the tenant of Dorothy Kwan, a young woman living in the house left her by her immigrant parents. Only in her mid-20s, Dorothy is living a placid and settled life, enlivened only by high-end shoplifting, an art she has mastered and which she performs in Vancouver's better department stores. When the tenant disappears, owing her rent, and two unpleasant cops turn up on her doorstep, her life becomes increasingly less predictable. The book alternates between the various characters entangled in this caper. Among them are the missing woman's estranged husband, a professional muscleman sent in to discover what happened to the missing money and coke, and the two crooked cops who were the stripper's partners in a drug-distribution scheme. They are all looking for payback of one kind or another, and though the plot bounces among these people in the manner favored by Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen, all the cutting from one to another has the unfortunate effect of dissipating any tension that builds up. And while there is much talk about how Vancouver is changing, the milieu is simply not pungent enough to be memorable.
This multithread thriller would have needed a far more graceful tailor to keep the seams from showing.