Silver Dagger winner Giles Blunt delivers an exhilarating game of cat and mouse with a most unlikely—and likeable—pair of thieves
Eight years ago, Owen Maxwell was saved from a foster home by the arrival of his uncle Max from England. Once a promising Shakespearean actor, Magnus “Max” Maxwell has since put his dramatic skills to new use: a master of disguise, a virtuoso of foreign dialects, and a performer to his core, he has become an extremely successful gentleman thief. Every summer, Max and Owen take a road trip across the United States, pulling off elaborate robberies along the way. But this year is different. Their first, dazzlingly executed summer heist captures the interest of the Subtractors.
Long believed an urban myth, the Subtractors are a gang of vicious thieves who prey on other thieves. They will abduct a fellow crook known to have completed a lucrative job and proceed to “subtract” parts of his body until he tells them where they can find the loot. “No such creature,” Max says, when Owen first suspects that they may be in the Subtractors’ sights. But in this, as in so many things, Max will prove to be disastrously wrong.
On a cool night in late June the traffic on Highway 101 was not heavy—not for a Saturday, anyway—and moved along at a steady clip, people cruising out to restaurants or movies or to spend the evening with friends.
There was one car traveling north from the city, a midnight-blue Lexus. An old man was driving, his considerable belly pressed up against the steering wheel, and the passenger seat was only partially filled by a blade- thin boy who looked to be in his late teens.
As the Lexus rounded a curve, it broke away from the rest of the traffic and veered across