In King’s (The Murder Run, 2019) seventh Travelers novel, married con artists help rob an island casino.
The two main characters adopt different names in every town they visit. Here, in Madisonville, he’s Paul Longmont and she’s Jessie Taggert. Jessie has spent the last two months “worming her way” into wealthy Hugo Lansing’s life. Paul, meanwhile, poses as someone in need of $500,000 in bearer bonds, which Lansing can provide—for a $100,000 fee. After the wily couple swipes the bonds and sells them back to Lansing for 10 cents on the dollar, Alexander Koenig, the man who got Paul into the con game, contacts them. He asks the pair to join a crew that’s going to hit the Solomon Island casino, off the coast of Bathsheba City. The plan, as Koenig tells it, is to rob the room safes as a distraction while going for a larger prize: more than $1 million of mobster Jeffrey Smithson’s laundered cash. Two noteworthy pieces of information: There are no guns allowed on the island, and the date of the planned heist is Smithson’s 70th birthday, so he’ll be surrounded by immediate family. While posing as casino workers Max and Kelly Jo Barlow, can the Travelers outmaneuver other greedy cons and learn the suspicious Koenig’s real mission? King dials back his protagonists’ personal drama, which will offer new readers a clean introduction to the series. As always, the initial con is just complex enough to maintain interest, with repercussions that may or may not bleed into the rest of the story. King resists the temptation to delve too far into Koenig’s backstory, although he establishes that Paul has “always dreamed of beating him at his own game.” JB and Lulu, another con artist couple, capably play tit for tat with the Travelers, showing the canny author at the height of his game. There’s some good gallows humor, as well, as when Max asks Kelly Jo if they should pose as missionaries, and she replies, “Have you heard the good news?” Although events crest early, the second half juggles a challenging number of moving parts.
Another full-throttle installment that shows that this crime series has no intention of slowing down.