Andrew Vachss returns with a mesmerizing novel about a hard-core thief who’s about to embark on a job that will alter his life forever.
Sugar is that rarest of commodities: an old-school professional thief, tough and loyal as a pit bull, packing 255 pounds of muscle. When he’s picked out of a photo array in a vicious rape case, the cops find his apartment empty. A stakeout catches Sugar when he returns . . . carrying a loaded pistol. The sex-crime cops get nothing from their interrogation, but a streetwise detective figures out why Sugar offers no alibi: at the time of the rape, a holiday-weekend break-in job was being pulled at a jewelry store. The DA offers Sugar two options: give up his partners in the jewelry heist and walk, or plead to the rape he didn’t commit—and he’ll toss in the gun charge. For Sugar, that’s not two options; he takes the weight.
When Sugar finishes his time, his money is waiting for him, held by Solly, the mastermind behind the jewelry heist. But Solly tells Sugar that one of the heist crew was actually sent by another planner—and that planner has just died. In Sugar’s world, all loose threads must be cut. He suspects that there’s more to this job than what Solly is telling him. But nothing he suspects or imagines can prepare him for what he finds . . .
At the start of this tepid stand-alone from Vachss (Haiku), professional thief Tim "Sugar" Caine finds himself in an interesting dilemma a rape victim has mistakenly identified him as her attacker, but he hesitates to tell the cops the truth because he was participating in a jewel robbery at the time. The canny ex-con figures that if he does time for the sex crime, he will evade scrutiny for the crime he did commit. Caine ends up serving a five-year sentence for sexual assault before he's back on the New York City streets, where he reconnects with Solly Vizner, the man who put the jewel heist together. Most of the book concerns Caine's efforts to track down another member of the crew who Vizner fears could squeal on everyone else, but a less than exciting lead and a slow-moving plot make this one of Vachss's weaker crime novels.