- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- Release Date: August 25, 2020
- Available Formats: Audio, e-Book, Hardcover
Twenty years ago in the dead of night, four seemingly random individuals pulled the ultimate heist and almost walked away with half a million dollars. But by daybreak, their plan had been shot to hell. One of them was in the hospital. One was in jail. One was dead. And one got away with it.
Arden Maxwell, the daughter of the man who disappeared all those years ago — presumably with the money, after murdering his accomplice — has never reconciled with her father’s abandonment of her and her sister. After countless personal setbacks she decides to return to her family home near mysterious Caddo Lake, and finally get answers to the many questions that torment her. Little does she know, two of her father’s co-conspirators — a war hero and a corrupt district attorney — are watching her every move.
Ledge Burnet, a rebellious teen at the time of the heist, evaded his jail sentence by enlisting in the army. Now he’s back in town to care for his ailing father — and to keep his eye on the county’s corrupt district attorney, whom he suspects was the real murderer. Although the two are bound to silence because of the crime they committed together, each has spent years waiting and hoping that the other will make a fatal misstep. But the arrival of their elusive accomplice’s daughter, Arden, who may know more about the missing money than she’s telling, sets them both on red alert. She ignites Ledge’s determination to expose the D.A.’s treachery… and sparks a desire he wishes to deny.
A Note From Sandra
THICK AS THIEVES began as some stories do — I suddenly found myself in a scene straight out of a heist movie. I wasn’t plotting or daydreaming. On the contrary, my mind was on something else entirely when a male voice from nowhere said:
“Talking about it is the surefire way to get caught.”
When this happens, believe me, I sit up and take notice. I looked around to see where I was and who had spoken.
I was in a muddy ditch that separated a country road from a cow pasture. It was nighttime, moonless, and airless with humidity. The speaker was as yet unnamed, but I saw him clearly and made mental note of a description. There were three others also in the ditch, who, along with the speaker, were huddled around a canvas bag stuffed with cash…recently stolen by them.
I was witness to four unlikely thieves whose self-appointed leader was laying the ground rules for their post-theft partnership.
This could lead to something. I went with it.
Six pages later, I had what I believed was a provocative prologue. My editor thought so, too, but when he asked me what came next, I replied as I usually do. “No clue.”
That wasn’t altogether true, though. I had several ideas, but hadn’t yet determined which of those ideas wanted to become a story. Not all do, you know.
But eventually I picked out the thread: The shaky alliance of four thieves gets much shakier.
And a theme: Your sins will find you out.
Next I needed a setting that would be as compelling and integral to the plot as the characters were. Actually, it needed to be another character.
It didn’t take me long to zero in on Caddo Lake. Located in northeastern Texas, it’s an otherworldly, swampy area shared with Louisiana. And when I say “shared,” the state line cuts right through those murky waters.
Legend has it that a Sasquatch resides in the area. Elusive black panthers prowl the moss-draped forests surrounding the lake. Water moccasins glide among the cypress trees along the shore. That is to say the environment is mysterious, haunting, menacing and alluring. With its labyrinths of tree-studded waterways where alligators lurk, it seemed the perfect setting for a story founded on One Big Secret, long buried, that needed to remain such.
Uncertain, Texas, is a “city” (pop. 94) on Caddo Lake. But I didn’t think you readers would consider that a plausible name for a town, so I dubbed my fictitious town Penton, which I actually spotted on a map of Alabama.
The villain is Rusty Dyle, an egotistical degenerate, whose rampant corruption as district attorney is exceeded only by his rampant hatred of Ledge Burnet.
Ledge is a former soldier who “Might have spent a little too much time at war, if you know what I mean.” He returned from his deployments a decorated hero. But his valor during his military service doesn’t atone for the crimes he committed in his youth.
The heroine, Arden Maxwell, returns to her hometown seeking answers regarding her father’s disappearance twenty years earlier, but to her frustration, she’s stonewalled at every turn…especially by Ledge Burnet.
The more she discovers about the event that sent her father packing, the more determined she becomes to get to the truth. Her persistent curiosity about the One Big Secret sets into motion an unwanted reexamination of two unsolved crimes — one a murder — and breaks the tenuous truce between Ledge and his arch-rival, each now out for blood.
Treachery, jealousy, deception, love, loyalty, and sultry desire abound against the backdrop of this overriding question:
Who among those four thieves resorted to murder in order to abscond with the booty?
Discover the answer along with Arden in THICK AS THIEVES.