In the 1970s, investigative reporter Cassie Phillips hitchhikes all over Missouri, chasing a Pulitzer-worthy story.  Unfortunately, she winds up lost in St. Louis, running from an attacker. The enigmatic, drug dealer, Tony Scarlotti comes to her rescue, drawing Cassie into a wide criminal operation she can’t seem to shake. While Tony makes a meteoric rise inside an infamous mafia family, Cassie continues her journalistic quest, a journey that will eventually lead her back into Tony’s world. Holding key information, Cassie soon finds herself all alone and on the run from a rival crime family. 

This dark, gritty story captures the essence of old-school crime dramas popular during the seventies. The writing is dialogue heavy, but the reader is still left to puzzle out who some of the characters are and if they can be trusted or not. Cassie, the trailblazing female journalist, independent, fierce and passionate, is the star of the show. However, the plot is thick with heavy crime elements recalling the mob politics of old.  The descriptions of surroundings, scenery, and character features, however, are too sparse. The racial epithets, most likely included to emphasize the social climate of the era, stopped just short of gratuitous, adding nothing to the story. That said, this is a tangled tale of vigilante vengeance and justice, featuring a complex love triangle, and a twisting, action packed climax.  This novel is a lean but riveting and ambitious ode to character rich crime stories. This one is recommended to anyone who enjoys organized crime dramas with a hardboiled edge. 

Julie Whiteley