Hazardous by Ruby Stiff

Hazardous by Ruby Stiff
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (150 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

One priceless diamond. A team of ruthlessly efficient thieves. A punk rock band and the ride of your life.

Mysterious Erika Ward has been on Brisbane’s most wanted list since she was a teenager. Detached and efficient, she and her team who call themselves The Black Letter E evade the police time and time again with ease. Their most recent heist at the Gallery of Modern Art should be a cinch but they never counted on Patrick Marquis and his mob princess girlfriend Ilesha O’Brien. From here on everything begins to unravel in a series of events that leads to the final moments on the roof top of the Treasury Casino.

Emma (Ringleader), Elle (Disco), Em (Rookie) and Erika (Phantom) all belong to a very special club. While they might call it a book club, BLE – Black Letter E – was a far different group than they outwardly appear. While they all know their actions are hazardous, it’s not until one of their heists go wrong that they’re really put to the test.

I really loved the concept that four women – almost strangers in their “real life” met together through a series of coincidences and ended up forming a group to carry out heists. A stay at home mother, a check-out chick, a law student and an architect. Four seemingly regular women with a completely irregular sideline. I loved it.

There were a few grammatical errors (cue instead of queue, and Circular Key instead of Circular Quay) but generally speaking, the editing was decent. During one of their heists the four ladies are beaten to the punch, and suddenly Phantom is caught up with a man from her past. Readers should be aware that there are character deaths in this story – important characters. While I found overall the plotline of thieving to be dealt with in a fun and lighthearted manner, there were darker, far more serious aspects to the storyline that weren’t shied away from. This book isn’t horror – the deaths weren’t particularly graphic, but I can’t help but feel that readers wanting a light, fluffy mystery might find some parts of this story too dark for them. Also more regular romance readers who dabble in mysteries might be put off by the major character deaths. This doesn’t have a traditional style happy ending.

I found the pacing of this story fast and effective. While the four women are introduced separately once the action starts it keeps on coming at a fast clip. I was a little lost a few times in the beginning – each of the women have both a “real life” name and a moniker they take on when they do jobs, so I got mixed up quite a few times between the characters. While I found this was a little annoying – it didn’t really detract too much from the pleasure of the action based, fast moving plot. And I really enjoyed the characters and their dual natures – normal women doing extraordinary heists. I have a soft spot for fiction involving thieves.

I found this to be a great story with an interesting and complex plot. Interesting and vibrant characters make this a lovely read.

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