Cover Image: Just Thieves

Just Thieves

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

is set in an unknown corner of the United States, where a career thief and down-and- outer named “Rick” learned dishonesty from his father, a crooked building inspector.  When his girlfriend, Denise, gives birth to a baby girl, she and Rick split the sheets.  Not a very good father, with problems of his own, Rick doesn’t like the new man in Denise’s—and his daughter’s—lives, not because he’s hung up on his old girlfriend . . . but because he’s a drug addict.
Rick seeks help from a shady character known only as “Froehmer,” a longtime friend of his father, who soon takes care of the problem.  No more druggie.  Froehmer also fronts the money to put Rick through rehab, where he kicks his habit.  In order to pay him back, Rick steals tools, equipment and supplies from construction sites on demand for Froehmer, who appears to be the spider at the center of a web of deceit, crime and mayhem.  And surprise! Rick’s good at it.  He soon graduates to stealing items on demand in an ever-widening sphere of crimes influenced by the arch-criminal.  The burglaries become more and more sophisticated and Rick acquires a partner named Frank, who’s adept with locks, burglar alarms and electronic devices.  But eventually the screws get tightened on the hapless thief, a murder occurs, and things start  looking grim for the guy who seems to be the perfect dupe.  This is a surprising and racy novel with superior characterization and a surprising plot.  It’ll keep readers guessing to the very last page.
Was this review helpful?
Published by Melville House on October 19, 2021

Rick steals things for a man named Froehmer. Rick’s father was corrupt. Rick accepts dishonesty as a way of life. Froehmer was his father’s good friend and Rick trusts him. Trusts him enough, anyway. Rick isn’t cut out for a nine-to-five job so stealing helps him support his daughter. Denise, Eva’s mother, doesn’t want anything to do with him, but Rick gives money to Denise when he has some to spare. He spends time with Eva when Denise allows it, which isn’t often. Rick accepts his situation just as he accepts the other circumstances of his life.

Rick started small, stealing from construction sites, working his way up to residential burglaries. As Rick made progress in his craft, Froehmer asked him to steal more valuable items that were usually within easy reach, like a rare coin displayed on a desk. Rick doesn’t ask questions about the object’s value or destination because it’s not his business. Nor does he care who the victim might be because, in his view, stealing doesn’t really hurt anyone. We’d all be better off if we weren’t so focused on acquiring and keeping property, wouldn’t we? The morality of crime, and the deeper question of what it means to be moral, pervades the novel, but Gregory Galloway doesn’t hammer the reader with the philosophy of larceny.

At a meeting for recovering addicts, Rick meets Frank, a counselor who gives life and morality more rigorous and intellectual thought than Rick can muster. They are living together when the novel begins. The text is never explicit about their relationship, but when Frank’s sister mentions that Frank’s mom doesn’t know, it becomes clear that they are lovers. Frank steals watches and knows how to disable alarm systems. He helps Rick steal for Froehmer because he doesn’t want Rick to be caught. Frank is cerebral, which is both a benefit and a curse. Frank plans, Frank takes precautions, Frank makes sure they don’t get caught. But Frank also needs to figure things out. When a dead horse appears and disappears in front of the hotel where they’re staying, Frank can’t let it go.

If you added an intelligent plot to a Liam Neeson movie and gave it the tag line “People who have everything fighting over nothing,” you’d get something like Just Thieves. Galloway tells the story in the first person from Rick’s perspective. The narrative style is simple and plain spoken with the elegance of noir. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. So like every other idiot, I bought a gun.” “We spend all our time waiting for one thing to stop and waiting for something else to start.” In addition to crafting his own memorable lines, Galloway borrows a few choice phrases from classic works of literature and noir; he credits them in the end.

The action heats up when Frank is apparently troubled by something that Froehmer asks them to steal, something that seems entirely valueless to Rick. Toward the end, Rick thinks he’s being set up for crimes he didn’t commit, leading to a surprising reveal of the person who committed them. To get himself out of a messy situation, Rick makes his life messier, straining his self-image as someone who does no harm to others.

The story jets along from key moment to key moment, sometimes flashing back to establish Rick’s character in greater depth. The simplicity of the story and of its few characters is appealing, although the simplicity masks the deep questions that Rick ponders as he considers his life with and without Frank. Just Thieves is a smart, compelling story told from the perspective of a person who regards himself as uncomplicated, as portrayed by an author who understands that every person is complicated.

Was this review helpful?
JUST THIEVES is definitely the most interesting novel I've read this year and perhaps the hardest to describe without spoiling the plot. But plot and tension it has, especially in the final third. This is a book that no reader with a weakness for noir should overlook. It is also one that any reader who takes pleasure in sharp and accurate prose and a sensitive development of character will be happy to read. 

My full  review is now running on
Was this review helpful?
"We were thieves...We never stole anything for ourselves. It was all strictly by request. We were small timers with small jobs. I'd been doing it for a while before I met Frank, but business was better once he joined." Rick would case out the target property, observe the comings and goings of the residents. Frank would assess alarms or surveillance systems. They were personal procurement specialists hired by Froehmer, the go between or fence, as a "grab and go" team. Once the item requested was procured and surrendered to Froehmer, they were paid. They scraped by.

Rick's dad had been a white collar crook, a building inspector who took kickbacks and bribes. He and Froehmer were friends. On two separate occasions, Froehmer paid for Rick's drug rehab at a treatment center. "Froehmer might have done it but not without strings. [Rick] was a name in the pad with a debt in the next column." According to Rick, "Froehmer was doing all right by me so far...I'd take the small things handed to me...Frank was a smart guy who could think through anything-take it apart-put it back together in his mind-until he figured it out. It had helped us get at stuff no one thought we could...Frank and I live[d] from job to job making more money than most...we scrape[d] by in a one-bedroom apartment."

The next job Froehmer floated was a time sensitive, quick grab job out of town. Hotel and car rental were fully paid up front. Double the usual pay offered. The coveted item, a sentimental, cheap silver animal trophy. Four blocks from the heist, a car collision ensued. No replacement rental car was available necessitating an additional overnight stay. In the morning, both Frank and the bag containing the trophy were gone. Rick would scour the unfamiliar city looking for Frank and the stolen trophy. He was determined to find Frank. Is there such a thing as simple theft, stealing enough to never get caught, lifting only what one could get away with? They were not burglars who kept ill-gotten gains. Froehmer awaited delivery of the poached item and the team would not disappoint. Rick, however, did not count on mayhem, disappearances and snowballing violence. Was there a way out, a way to leave this life behind?

"Just Thieves" by Gregory Galloway is a gritty crime novel allowing the reader to enter the world of two fictional former addicts, turned house thieves, who lifted requested goods for their handler. Past misdeeds and mistakes have led them to this path. Collateral damage will follow. A highly recommended read!

Thank you Melville House Publishing and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Rick and Frank are small time crooks and recovering addicts. Rick is following in the footsteps of his father; Frank is just following Rick. They're good at what they do and work for the elusive Froehmer, who assigns the jobs to Rick and then pays him.

One day a seemingly random incident sets off a chain of events that will forever alter their lives. As Rick tries to figure out what is really happening, he is shocked and betrayed at every turn. 

This is a unique, noirish suspense novel that will keep the reader guessing until the very last page. #JustThieves #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
A marvellous fictional trip with two unusual crooks saddled with enough emotional baggage to fill up an entire Boeing 747...

A fiendishly plotted noir with lots of unexpected twists and turns at every corner, written with lots of punch and unforgettable verbal pyrotechnics and a killer ending that left poor me totally gobsmacked. 
One of the most delightful surprises of the year that deserves to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever 👍👍

Many thanks to Netgalley and Melville for this terrific ARC
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to NetGalley and Melville House Publishing for an advanced copy of this noir thriller. 

Rick and Frank are thieves, acquirers of select objects and extremely good at what they do. Recovering addicts who met in rehab, both men bring a particular set of skills to their partnership, a partnership much more than occupational. But one lapse, an omen of trouble that they ignore, leading to a car accident after a job, and Frank is gone, leaving Rick only one choice but to find him. 

Just Thieves by Gregory Galloway is a slim novel, but a very good one. Rick is a character who wants a family, is driven to help those he calls his family, even as they all leave or betray him. The writing is sharp with dialogue that that seems real, not movie tough guy and gal speak, more smart aleck and true to a character that just wants to be left alone and make a bit of money. The violence is sudden, and again real not cinematic with not a lot of description, but what is unsaid is just as scary. Loss drives a lot of the story. Rick has lost his parents early, leaving him alone in a world that drugs helped him deal with. As father he is kept at arm lengths from his daughter, not matter what monetary support he gives. As a reader you feel his loss even as he does increasingly horrible things as the story goes on. 

A very enjoyable book. Fans of George Higgins and Elmore Leonard will enjoy the characters and he descriptions of the life they lead, and the quirks that drive the characters to do what they do. A very enjoyable noir, and I will be adding Mr. Galloway to authors I look forward to reading.
Was this review helpful?
Just Thieves by Gregory Galloway is an enthralling and engrossing read with a great plot and characters! Well worth the read
Was this review helpful?
A very twisty piece of crime fiction!  Fans of noir and authors like Patricia Highsmith, will enjoy the tale of Frank and Rick, two thieves and recovering addicts  who know they are part of a larger organization, but not where they fit in.  On a job, one thing and then another goes wrong,  Frank then disappears with their target, leaving Rick to sort out the aftermath and to try and figure out where his partner has gone and why.  Author Galloway does a    great job building the disturbing narrative and reaching a shocking finale.  Highly Recommend!!
Was this review helpful?