Readers considering a life of crime should first read Roger Hobbs. He’s one of the most informative crime novelists working today, and he stuffs his books with a plethora of tips and warnings. Think of it as a correspondence course in crime, one thriller at a time.
In his stunningly good debut, “Ghostman,” he gave us an insiders’ look at casino heists. Now, in that book’s sequel, “Vanishing Games,” Hobbs turns his attention to smuggling and piracy in the South China Sea.
After reading the book’s opening chapter, would-be criminals might find themselves appreciating the security of a cubicle-bound office gig.
On the surface, it seems like a simple plan: ambush a smugglers’ yacht carrying uncut sapphires worth millions, kill the smugglers onboard, snatch the sapphires and sell them on the open market in Bangkok. Easy, right?
The heist on the high seas goes awry — you knew it had to — after the pirates stumble onto something the smugglers aren’t willing to write off as a small loss. (Hobb waits until Page 138 to reveal what, exactly, the valuable cargo is.) Soon, the thieves who survive the heist find themselves being hunted down by an oversized sadist who likes to delsiver “So you’re going to die” speeches to his victims in a creepy whisper.