Publication Date: June 19, 2016
Violent Winters is following in the footsteps of her parents working as a con-artist and thief. When she asked to return to her hometown to pull off an art heist, she sees it as an opportunity to even the score with boyfriend that tried to kill her. Gathering a handpicked crew and with an ex with murder still in his eyes, will Violet find that you truly can’t go home again?
The Dali Deception is book one in the Kilchester Caper series.
The author, Adam Maxwell, gave me a copy of this novel as an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) in exchange for my review.The Dali Deception is a modern English crime caper with a flavor of something that Ealing Studios might have released in the 1960s. On the surface, the story is a tale of twisted morals and revenge while at its heart, it’s a character study of a cast of diverse, quirky and delightful characters. My father, a sometimes collaborator for reviews on this site, is in town, so we were able to read The Dali Deception together and his thoughts will be incorporated into this review.
There’s a cool swagger to the literary tone of The Dali Deception. We meet Violet and Katie while they’re on a burglary job that isn’t all it seems. The women have clearly done this sort of work together once or twice, and there’s ease between them. No hurry to accomplish their task, Violet chats with her trusted friend as they wait for their chance to complete the task and in so doing, we get a feel of the leading character and driving force for the plotline. We know before we read about the job that Violet has been deeply betrayed. She tells Katie a disturbing tale with the laid-back calm that belies the terror she must have felt in the moment. Within the first few pages we get a sense of the motivating character and a hint of the craftsmanship to come.
My father, David, said that, unlike me, it took some time for the story to draw him in. In the first pages we’re getting to know the characters instead of the plot, and he would have liked to have a clear picture from the start. David was pulled into the tale when Violet recruited Lucas, a conman she meets while he’s selling the x-ray of a gorilla’s chest to restaurateurs as an x-ray of Marilyn Monroe’s chest. While all of the characters are skillfully crafted, Lucas seems to be the one with whom Maxwell has the best rapport. Lucas is savvy, crafty and always on the grind. In one scene he challenges his co-conspirators to tell stories of their work. In the moment, he’s trying to distract them in order to make a buck but ultimately, a good sense of his character is conveyed in the moment. In his business, it’s essential to stay one step ahead of the mark…especially when the mark is of the caliber of gangster Big Terry, a character relished.
If you surmise that Big Terry isn’t big, you’d be correct but he is brutal. While his appearances in the story are brief, they make a big impression. More talked about than seen when Big Terry and Violet come together, their snappy banter is the best kind of entertainment. Readers know much of the information that passes between the characters and we have a good sense of what is to come, but the way Maxwell lays out the interaction is nothing less than brilliant.The Dali Deception is a delight. Salvador Dalí is one of my favorite artists. When in Florida, whenever possible, we visit the Dalí museum at St. Petersburg. The story that the client gives Violet about the focal crime is plausible. There are people that collect fake Dalí signatures. If an actual Dalí signature on canvas exists, I’m not sure but, the attention to detail by the author is a joy. My dad doesn’t know a Dalí from a doorknob though he said of Violet, “Of course she’s going to steal art. She’s classy.” The Dali Deception is an interesting story, is well crafted and moves quickly. Even in the moments where the characters are preparing the field, they are interesting enough to bring the reader back to the table. Will Violet get her revenge? Will the well thought-out crew be able to pull off stealing a blank Dalí “painting?”
In no way has Maxwell reinvented the wheel, but what he’s brought readers is a story that everyone will want to read. Is there honor among thieves? Read The Dali Deception and find out. You will love the work of this talented author. That there will be further books in the series is cause of celebration.
Read an excerpt and buy The Dali Deception by Adam Maxwell on