2018 Reviews · action · contemporary fiction · crime · new release · United States

Release Day Book Review: The Stakes by Ben Sanders

Title: The Stakesthe stakes small

Author: Ben Sanders

Published: January 24th 2018

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 400

Genres:  Fiction, Action, Crime

RRP: $29.99

Rip-offs are a dangerous game, but NYPD robbery detective Miles Keller thinks he’s found a good strategy: rip off rich New York criminals and then retire early, before word’s out about his true identity. New town, new name, no worries.

Retirement can’t come soon enough, though. The NYPD is investigating him for the shooting of a hitman named Jack Deen, who was targeting a former police informant who also happened to be Miles’s ex-lover.

Miles thinks shooting hitmen counts as altruism, but in any case a murder charge would make life difficult. He’s ready to go to ground, but then Nina Stone reappears in his life.

Nina is a fellow heist professional and the estranged wife of an LA crime boss. Miles last saw her five years ago, when he was investigating her for bank robbery and looked the other way, for reasons he is still trying to figure out. Since then her life has grown more complicated: her husband wants her back, and he’s dispatched his go-to gun thug to play repo man. 

Complicating matters is the fact that the gun thug in question is Bobby Deen, cousin of the dead Jack Deen – and Bobby wants vengeance.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, but Nina has an offer that could be lucrative. Maybe Miles can stick around a while longer and get the big payoff he’s been waiting for? But luck has a way of running out and soon Miles is in way over his head.

Effortlessly cool, suspenseful as hell and pure reading pleasure, The Stakes confirms Ben Sanders as one of our finest writers of crime fiction.

My review:

The Stakes is the fifth novel by New Zealand author Ben Sanders. This gritty crime fiction offering is an adrenaline ride from start to finish, confirming Sanders’ status as one of the essential action based crime writers, giving Lee Child and Harlan Coben a run for their money.

Miles Keller takes on one of the starring roles in Ben Sanders latest release. Miles is an NYPD detective, based in the robbery division. We soon learn Miles is a detective who doesn’t follow the rules. Instead, Miles has a dangerous and dodgy plan. He rips off rich criminals and is using the money to fund his plans for an early retirement. Lately he has been put under the radar of the NYPD, who are investigating his involvement in the shooting of a hitman. This hitman was responsible for hounding his ex lover, Lucy. Miles is trying to avoid a murder charge at any cost. When Nina Stone, a heist expert and also the ex of a crime boss steps into his life with an offer that Miles finds too good to refuse, a big payoff, he accepts. Although the lure of big sum of money has Miles hooked on Nina’s offer, the stakes are high indeed. Especially when a dangerous thug by the name of Bobby Dean is on the warpath, sent by Nina’s estranged crime boss husband Charles, to thwart any plans Nina and Miles have made.

Although this is the fifth novel written by Ben Sanders, The Stakes is the first book I have read by this author. The reason why I have not touched a Ben Sanders novel until The Stakes is purely down to my aversion to action infused crime novels. The Stakes is a novel that falls into this category but despite this, I readily admit to being entertained by this novel.

The Stakes is a high octane thriller. The action begins thick and fast from the opening page and the pace doesn’t let up throughout the course of the novel. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat many times during the course of reading this novel. Overall, the narrative came across as well plotted and complex. There are plenty of layers to this story, which unfurls at a steady rate. The dialogue was realistic and it was easy to follow along.

The character set featured in The Stakes are an interesting bunch. Miles, the leading character, is an intriguing main protagonist. He has good and not so good aspects to his personality. His motivations and actions are certainly questionable, to say the least! Although Miles is a curly character, it is hard not to root for him. Miles is offset by a number of supporting characters, including Nina Stone, who recruits Miles to help her and Bobby Deen, the hardened repo man sent to stop Miles and Nina. Sanders allows us to get inside the minds of each of these characters by swapping the points of view between these protagonists for each different chapter in the novel. It is a technique that I feel works well for this style of novel.

Sanders bases his fifth novel in two US based locations. The action in the novel alternates between New York and LA. Sanders appears to have a good grasp of his setting which is depicted well in The Stakes. Sanders rips apart the dark and gritty underworld that exists in the US through his latest release. There is a strong visual quality to Sanders writing, especially in the setting based areas of the book. I believe this is a sign that The Stakes is a novel that would easily transfer to the screen, either in the form of a feature film or television series.

Expect a multi layered thrill ride of you select the latest book from Ben Sanders. It is a carefully plotted novel that is filled with plenty of action, suspense and intrigue to keep the pages turning at a swift pace. A cracking conclusion awaits readers of this complex and exciting crime novel. I have no doubt The Stakes will appeal to those who appreciate solid crime writing, with plenty of action attached.

The Stakes by Ben Sanders is published on January 24th 2018 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Stakes, Ben Sanders, visit here.

*I wish to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.



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