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The heretofore depressive Blunt puts on his dancing shoes to follow a pair of gentlemen thieves from San Francisco to points south and east.

Ever since carrying him off shortly after his parents were killed in a car crash, former Shakespearean actor Magnus (“Max”) Maxwell has raised his great-nephew Owen to follow in his footsteps. Night after night the two coach each other on their entrances and exits, share advice about wigs and makeup, then enter the courts of the wealthy and rob their hosts at gunpoint. All goes swimmingly until they reach Las Vegas, where the intergenerational heists are complicated by two developments. The Maxwells cross paths with Charlie Zigler, a fellow felon who’s decided to bring the legendary figures of the Subtractors, thieves who prey exclusively on other thieves, to life by threatening members of the rival gangs with amputations if they don’t give up inside information. Luckily, by the time Zig and his cohorts Clem Boxley and Stu Quaig hijack Max’s sidekicks Terry Pook and Roscoe Lukacs, a replacement is already at hand. Shortly after Max pays his respects to Sabrina Bertrand, the waitress daughter of an old friend currently behind bars, Owen finds her being threatened by Bill Bullard, a born-again security guard determined to beat divine grace into her, and the surviving twosome of thieves soon becomes a threesome. Naturally, they’re pursued across numerous state lines by Bill and Zig, and naturally, cross-purposes develop within the amiable gang itself. Only in the last three chapters, after he’s killed off most of a supporting cast notable for their amusing tics, does Blunt, evidently recalling that his specialty is piercing sadness, tack on a distinctly more elegiac epilogue. For most of this violent, synthetic romp’s running time, however, its patron saint is Carl Hiaasen.

The result isn’t half bad, just less distinctive than Blunt’s tales of Algonquin Bay Detective John Cardinal (By the Time You Read This, 2007, etc.).

Pub Date: April 27th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8062-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2009


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