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Roland S. Jefferson: Damaged Goods

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Atria Books (Hardcover) ISBN 0-7432-6886-5

Book: roland f. jefferson: damaged goods
Alonzo Crane knew a good plan for robbing a bank when he saw it, and he saw it in Steve McQueen's movie The Thomas Crown Affair. So he found the ideal bank to rob, gathered a team, rehearsed the procedure to near perfection and received a sentence of twenty-five to life when the scheme ended in disaster and the wounding of a security guard. He also earned a reputation befitting a legend in his inner city neighborhood.

After ten years of incarceration, Crane receives an offer he can't refuse. The corrupt warden and his allies need to get their hands on a large steamer trunk stashed on the top floor of a building in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for them as soon as the trunk arrived at its destination, the Department of Justice established an around the clock surveillance of the building. As a reward for Crane's developing and carrying out a plan to remove the trunk from beneath the watchful eyes of the law and transporting it to a designated area, the warden agrees to expunge his entire record from the computer database and allow Crane to walk as a free man. Crane accepts the deal under the conditions that he puts together his own team and that the actual plan remains known only to himself.

With that agreement and an envelope full of cash, Crane returns to his old neighborhood to devise his next move. He immediately hooks up with his old buddy Duffy and Duffy's freckle-faced prostitute girlfriend Trixie. Once he begins to scout the hotel where the steamer trunk lies under close guard, he realizes that Trixie makes an unexpectedly good addition to the team. Making good use of all her charms, she wiles their way onto the floor below the trunk's resting place. Taking meticulous notes, Crane begins to formulate his plan. At every turn Trixie seems instinctively to know what needs to be done and when. She also becomes the cause of an unexpected strain in the relationship between Duffy and Crane.

Crane carefully selects an eclectic group with a myriad of specializations to flesh out the team. As in his bank robbing scheme from earlier years, the team rehearses until the plan seems perfected. He then puts the plan into action and the group moves quickly toward the conclusion of the caper. Close to success, Crane finds he must deal with betrayal and treachery from all sides. In a slam bang action sequence, he turns the tables on his adversaries and sets in motion a getaway plan almost certain to succeed. After all, he got the idea from one of his favorite movies.

In this, his fourth novel, author Roland Jefferson takes an interesting premise, adds to it an attention-grabbing insight into the mores of the inner city culture, and ends up with an imaginative and swift moving tale. Readers easily offended by less than genteel language may want to think twice before taking the plunge. For everyone else, enjoy the ride.

Clint Hunter

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