TRUST ME is the second novel from Peter Leonard. Second books are important to me. I don't 'trust' first books as an indicator of anything. Unintentional pun aside, good or bad the first book is not trustworthy. The second book is where an author needs to prove their meddle as it was likely written under a much shorter time-line than the first with the sole purpose of proving that stellar first book was no fluke. Or the reverse that the first book was not as bad as everyone said it was. So having not read Mr. Leonard's first book, QUIVER, I feel a little safer in my own personal belief that TRUST ME will be a truer gauge of Mr. Leonard's talent.
TRUST ME mines that time honored caveat of Crime Fiction; Criminals are stupid. And it is from here that there is a lot of really great stupid criminal behavior that provides TRUST ME with many enjoyable moments. If taken just on that TRUST ME is a pretty good one. It usually begs the question; How do these idiots organize getting out bed every morning let alone a criminal enterprise? The answer is simple. Criminals are savants when it comes to creating suffering in others.
Karen is a morally challenged woman who has made the foolish mistake, one of more than a few in her life, in giving her boyfriend her $300,000 nest egg. 'Love' is not forever, and now Karen wants her money back. But the boyfriend, Samir, is not stupid enough to do that. Karen recruits a couple dullards to help out with a plan to heist the money back from Samir. The heist goes suitably pear shaped, and soon Karen is on the run from everyone. Most importantly Karen is on the run from O'Clair. And while Karen's other pursuers are cruel simpletons the ex-cop, O'Clair, is Karen's biggest threat. And much like Karen, O'Clair is not really a bad guy. But mix in a few bad decisions and some suspect judgment and you have two characters who are staring down the barrel of a life gone wrong.
The real skill here is how Mr. Leonard sets up Karen and O'Clair as morally selfish characters early on, but then spends the remainder of the book tearing down his own construction. I guess this is what you call character development, but eventually you root for both in their mutually opposing goals. Still TRUST ME is best when it is running its characters through its briskly plotted story. If one can write believably in this merry-go-round of a crime thriller than Mr. Leonard has a genuine talent for action writing, in the sense that as a reader I was never lost in the business of TRUST ME.
As I said in the beginning, first books are troublesome creations. But this is what I know after reading TRUST ME. One, I can pick up a copy of QUIVER free of worry about Mr. Leonard's talent. And two, I will look forward to a long line of works exploring the crime fiction world of Peter Leonard.