[Review] Among Thieves by John Clarkson

Posted 3 February, 2015 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 0 Comments

Among Thieves Book Cover Among Thieves
John Clarkson
February 3, 2015

They thought they could cover up what an out-of-control trader at a Manhattan brokerage firm did to Olivia Sanchez. She worked hard, played by the rules, but so what? Blackball her from the industry and be done with her. Who’s going to stop them? Nobody, until Olivia turns to her cousin Manny, an ex-con and ex-gang leader whose first reaction is to take care of the arrogant bastard who hurt his cousin—permanently. His partner, James Beck, part of a tight clique of ex-cons based in Brooklyn’s Red Hook, convinces Manny to hold off. Things can be complicated in the real world. But even the savvy Beck has no idea what’s really going on. There’s much more at stake than Beck imagines, starting with enough money to ignite a level of ruthless greed that can wipe Beck and his partners off the face of the earth. It’s tens of millions of dollars, connected to arms dealing for a clandestine U.S. agency. Beck and his loyal band are forced into an escalating nonstop war against an arms dealer, war criminals, Russian mobsters, and even the NYPD. The only way to stay out of prison and survive is to outsmart, outfight, never concede, and ultimately rob their enemies of the source of their power: 116 million dollars.

I received an Advanced Copy of this novel for review from the publisher via NetGalley.

So, you know you’re reading a really good book when you have no fingernails left, your bottom lip is bleeding and you’ve uttered,‘Oh for goodness sake!” at least half a dozen times. Bonus points you’ve almost tossed the book (or ereader) across the room.

Among Thieves begins as a story about a team of ex cons, led by James Beck, who have joined forces to not only help other men fresh out of jail but right the wrongs of the world… sort of like a modern day expanded A-Team. Beck has weapons specialists, financial specialists, even an on call doctor to stitch up wounds. James has collected a motley crew of individuals that has become his family.

Manny, who serves as cook and resident Guy You Don’t Want To Piss Off, has a problem– his cousin, a Wall Street stock broker, has been assaulted and forced out of her job. She’s been black balled from the finance industry and can’t get a job at another firm. She wants revenge and her ex con, frightening and terrifyingly large cousin with big guns is just the man for the job.

Beck steps in because if he doesn’t, all hell will break loose. When Manny wants to kill someone, he’s virtually unstoppable. Beck formulates a brilliant plan to extort money from Milstein, owner of Summit Financial, Olivia’s previous employer–severance, plus pain and suffering, since Alex Crane, a fellow coworker, broke two of her fingers in an attempt to throw her off the trail of some illegal trading practices.

The ruse should work and go off without a hitch… should being the operative word. Milstein doesn’t like being told what to do. He calls in his drug addled, all the way crazy biggest client Markov to alert him of the attempt to extort money, knowing full well Markov will deal with Olivia and Beck. And here’s where things just get nuts.

What should have been a simple, “pay her the money you owe her and everyone goes away,” becomes an increasingly convoluted scheme to take down Markov, a Russian mobster, and all of his gun wielding associates. Beck gets in more fights and beats off more goons in a 48 hour period than Jean Claude Van Damme– he’s almost unbelievably skilled at kicking mercenary butt.

Beck’s seemingly apparent flaw, though, is his attraction to Olivia and this is dangerous because what seems like a frightened, trapped woman is nothing but and James Beck– and Manny and the entire ‘family’ are embroiled in a scheme that goes so deep, the US Army is involved.

The saying is that there is no honor among thieves and the theme of this book proves that to be true. You can’t trust a thief to keep his word. Or hers. This book was a tumultuous ride that wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy, but every once in awhile I had to take a break because I found it hard to breathe. I’m pleased to find out that this will be a series, because I could deal with much more of James Beck and his Band of Not So Merry Men.

Four star read, worth the panic attack!

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