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Books Editorial

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Ryan Gattis, Picador

There are two sets of criminals in Ryan Gattis’ latest LA-set thriller. The biggest crooks are the money men (and women) who caused the financial crash, but their sundry misdeeds form only the backdrop to this tale set over three days in 2008, just when home repossessions were beginning to hit. The story flip-flops between two voices: Ghost, a safe-cracker working with the Drugs Enforcement Agency, and Rudy, a gangster doing the bidding of one of LA’s head-honchos. We soon learn that Ghost has terminal cancer but aims to use his specialist skills to carry out a Robin Hood-like good deed before he dies; while Rudy is turning informer in order to begin a new life for himself and his family. Their narrative strands are drawn inexorably together, but before we get there Gattis takes us on a wild ride involving clandestine meetings and nerve-shredding heists. This is a superior morality tale with the author even finding time to give us a soundtrack – by way of one of the character’s mixtapes – that features US and UK punk rock that is as hard-boiled as the story.