Book Review: Wallace Stroby’s COLD SHOT TO THE HEART

This review is by contributing writer Eric Edwards, who loves Richard Stark novels.

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Cold Shot to the Heart‘s protagonist Crissa Stone is a thief and a damn good one. She has a go-between named Hector who helps find jobs worth her talent and abilities, ones that come with a hefty paycheck of which Hector gets a piece. She usually works with a crew and rarely with someone she doesn’t know because she can’t trust anyone in her profession. When a job doesn’t feel right, she turns it down, no matter how rich the payoff.

Wayne, the person who taught her everything she knows, is currently doing time in prison. Along comes a greedy Texan with a powerful sway over the parole board overseeing Wayne’s upcoming appeal. He’ll help get Wayne out of jail, but for a price. Crissa doesn’t have the money so she goes to Hector and he gives her what may be the perfect job. Small crew, big payout, too big to turn down. The job looks good on paper but Crissa breaks a rule by working with someone she doesn’t really know. Suddenly she’s running for her life from a psycho who not only wants her share of the heist but wants her dead as well.

I read this book in one sitting, which is a rare thing. There are only a few authors who compel me to do so; Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake is on this short list with his Parker books. Anyone who has ever read Westlake’s lean, hard prose in a Parker novel knows what I am talking about. Comparisons will be made between Parker and Crissa Stone, and anyone who misses the literary equivalent of heroin the Stark novels provided can find some solace in Stroby’s heroine. Yes, Crissa is a woman instead of the brick wall of a man Parker was, but there’s a reason her last name is Stone. I embraced her and will be surprised as hell if a strong actress doesn’t grab the movie rights to what I hope will be a long-running series based on this character.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    January 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Love the Parker novels!! I might have mentioned on this site before, I actually had a librarian threaten to scratch my eyes out when she saw me holding one she hadn’t read. Told me she would be VERY ANGRY if I didn’t return it on time. I also went to a used book store hoping to pick up a couple titles. They laughed at me and said that even if they had a copy of any of the volumes, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. There are some seriously rabid fans out there. And I happen to be one of them.

    I’ll pick up a copy of A Cold Shot To The Heart, Mr. Edwards, and get back to you regarding your claim that Stroby’s novel can hold up against Stark’s Parker novels.

  • Reply
    Reader#9
    January 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I was skeptical, especially since couldn’t find any of Wallace Stroby’s books at my local library, but then I found A Cold Shot To The Heart at Barnes and Noble. I read the first chapter in line while waiting in line at Starbucks. (Yes, it was a long line and I must have been yelled at about 50 times to move forward. LOL.) Once I got my caffeine, I forgot about my many errands and sat down to read at least another chapter or two. Two turned into five and then ten and on and on. I finished it! It was great! Crissa Stone an awesome character and I really get the Parker comparison. I hope Stroby makes a series out of this. Good call, Mr. Edwards!

    • Reply
      EIREGO
      January 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      I went through the same thing, Reader#9, except that I found it at a Borders and read it at home. My only regret is that I read it so quickly and now all I have is that empty feeling I get after reading a book and knowing I have nothing else as fun and gripping on my bookstand. Great read.

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