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By Roland S. Jefferson

Atria, April 2005 ($23.00)
ISBN: 0743268865

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Alonzo Crane is serving a twenty-five years to life sentence in prison for his part in a bank robbery. The warden at the penitentiary happens to be corrupt and makes Crane an offer of early release (after serving only 10 years of his sentence) if Crane will do one slightly illegal favor for the warden...steal a steamer trunk from the top floor of a Los Angeles high-rise building. It sounds simple enough, but the task is anything but simple. The trunk is under surveillance by the Department of Justice.

Not every reader will be willingly or easily drawn to this type of book. Some readers like their mystery and crime stories neat and clean. They don't want to know "whodunit" at the beginning of the book, and they don't like criminals to be the main character. I urge you, if you have those preferences to set them aside and give DAMAGED GOODS a read. I think you may be surprised with the twists and turns the author has in store for his cast of characters. Don't think of it as just another crime thriller about a heist. Imagine for a moment what you would do if you were in this guy's shoes...or prison cell.

If you're already a fan of caper stories, then what are you waiting for?

Good pacing, well developed characters, snappy dialogue, and a compelling storyline combine to make this a crime thriller that stands out from the rest. I don't know if movie rights have been optioned yet, but this would make an exciting movie.

My only quibble is with the cover art design. I found it very off putting.

Previous titles by this author include: THE SCHOOL ON 103RD STREET (1976) published by W. W. Norton & Company (1997), A CARD FOR PLAYERS, and 559 TO DAMASCUS (out of print).

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