A Plain-Dealing Villain (Daniel Faust 4) by Craig Schaefer

Stars: 4 out of  5.

I think this series is getting better with each new book, which is an exciting occurrence. I’ve seen too many series putter out after the first few books because the author didn’t plan the overarching arc well enough or just ran out of ideas, but has contracted to write more books. I’m glad to say that it’s not the case here. It really feels like there is a solid plan behind these books and things that seemed unimportant or barely mentioned in previous books suddenly come to play in the next books. I like it when I can trust the author to take me for a wild ride and not loose sight of the destination.

My only compliant here is that it starts a bit slow, with an aborted robbery and way too much time being interrogated/shadowed by Harmony Black in the beginning of the book. Once Faust arrives in Chicago and the action picks up, the book become a lot more interesting. 

What I have noticed is that I only truly get invested in these books when the gang is all together. Daniel Faust by himself tends to charge in without thinking, make a complete mess of the situation, then try to fix what he broke in the first place. Like Pixie told him in this book, you never fix anything, you just try to mitigate the damage. The true magic happens when Cormy and Mama Margaux and Pixie and even Caitlin are there to help him. That’s when the cons come to life, that’s when the books become an adrenaline-packed ride. And it’s a true joy to watch them work together, help each other, trust each other and pull of seemingly impossible things. 

I am also glad that the insta-love between Faust and Caitlin is finally qustioned in this book. I’ve been saying since book one that this felt unnatural to me, and it seems that I’m right. I hope this gets further development in future books, because this is the definition of a toxic relationship – when one of the participants is basically manipulated into feeling what he does. I don’t care about justifications or that Caitlin loves him too now, this relationship started with a lie. This at least needs to be addressed between them if there is any future in this.

There are some interesting new plotlines to explore in future books, like the looming hostile takeover of Las Vegas by the Chicago Outfit, which would definitely be a bloody affair. And of course this new shadowy figure pulling the ropes behind the latest heist. Who is he and what is his end goal? What kind of ritual are his minions preparing for? And how will Daniel clear his name from the murder he’s been framed for, and will he do it in time to help his friends?

I am definitely picking up the next book in the series.

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