Collar Robber by Hilary Bell Locke

Collar Robber by Hilary Bell Locke
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (296 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

How can you make money from a painting that you don’t own, can’t steal, and couldn’t fence even if you succeeded? What if you convince people you already had stolen it?

An assortment of shady and brutal players in Collar Robber think that—leaving a corpse or two along the way—they can use that bright idea to gouge fifty-million dollars from Jay Davidovich’s employer, Transoxana Insurance Company. Davidovich, first met in 2012’s Jail Coach, is a Loss Prevention Specialist. Fifty million would be a good loss to prevent.

Cynthia Jakubek from But Remember Their Names has jumped from the gilded drudgery of lawyering with a big Wall Street firm to the terrifying adventure of starting her own solo practice in Pittsburgh. One of her clients wants to help Davidovich—for a hefty price—and stay alive in the process. Another wants to get married in the Catholic Church to a fiancée who was briefly wed years before to someone who now has an interest in the painting. An annulment is needed.

As Davidovich and Jakubek face brawls on street corners and in court rooms, confrontations in brothels, confessionals, and Yankee Stadium luxury suites, and Tasers, machine guns, and religious vestments used as weapons, they have to remember that “take no prisoners” isn’t always a metaphor…

When an original painting and fifty million dollars hang in the balance, unlikely partnerships are bound to form. What will those pairings be? The insurance company and the Church? Or the lawyer and the criminal? By the time it all works itself out, it could be all of these and more. But who will come out on top and will the painting ever be safe from those who want it? Only time and a lot of intrigue will tell.

Cynthia Jakubek is a woman worth admiring. She had it all – a great job on Wall Street for a major law firm and the insane pay to go with it – and gave it all up to be able to chase the bad guys and have her day in court. For her, it was more about results than the money and she happily took a giant cut in pay in order to get out from under the thumb of the bigger lawyers and be able to do more than grunt work. She’s scrappy, determined, and takes no prisoners. I love a strong, feisty female lead and Jakubek is just that.

Jay Davidovich is pure muscle and knows how to use each and every one. Working loss-prevention for Transoxana Insurance Company, he gets to put it to good use on a regular basis. I’m not entirely sure why, but Jay was my favorite character in this novel. His tough exterior is present right up until he starts thinking about his wife, Rachel, and then he turns into a giant teddy bear. He’d be the idea kind of guy to have on your side. Intelligent and dangerous, he also has a soft side to match it.

This novel left me feeling rather torn. The story itself is well written and intense, yet, I still found myself confused more often than not. I think that, for me, there may have been too many characters, some of which you only get a cursory introduction to, leaving you without any decent way of remembering their purpose. About halfway through the novel, however, I began to figure out who was who and what their jobs were and it became easier to follow. Although, despite my initial confusion and lack of understanding, Collar Robber is an intricate and complex story that keeps you guessing until the very end.

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