She’d been out of prison now almost ten months, had been clean for half a year, but she hardly felt free.
She was thirty-six years old and she had just worked herself into a sweat cleaning a toilet in a diner.
Bad as prison had been, the walls that had kept her in her cell and in the yard had never screamed hopelessness as loud as the barred window in this tiny bathroom.
Letty Dobesh is an ex-con (repeatedly), a (sometimes) recovering addict, a thief, and (biologically) a mom — she wants to reunite with her son, she wants to be a mother — but she doesn’t know how. She does know how to make a mess of her life, ruin her health, get high and steal anything she wants to.
The three novellas collected here give us glimpses in to some of her professional highs — and we see bits of her lows, too.
Her life seemed to be defined by moments like these.
Moments of pure self-hatred.
And this was just one more in a long, long line.
These are fast reads — you get sucked in to Letty’s world, her way of looking at things and you root for her to get away whatever she’s trying to get away with. There’s a story about her trying to save a life, another with her first attempt at becoming an art thief, and then a story about her getting in over her head by working with some criminals who are far more willing to use brawn and guns than Letty’s ever been. Each of these feel different — Letty’s the same, but the settings and the way that Crouch tells the stories vary enough to keep things very fresh.
The other characters that fill these pages (or those that flit across a line or two) are interesting enough to fulfill whatever narrative duty they have to, but these are all about Letty. If you like reading about her, you’ll like this book. If you aren’t interested by her at all after 10 pages or so, you’d better skip the rest.
It wasn’t the first or the second or even the third time she’d had a firearm pointed at her. But she never got used to that gaping black hole. Couldn’t take her eyes off of it. If [spoiler] chose to pull the trigger in this moment, it was the last thing she’d ever see.
This book is being released to coincide with the debut of TNT Network’s series based on these novellas, starring Michelle Dockery, in her attempt to avoid being typecast. I tried not to, but I kept seeing Dockery saying some of these lines. It was easier to avoid thinking of her in the first novella; but in the second it was almost impossible not to — especially when not-Lady-Mary is talking with Johnny. I must say, my mental-Dockery did a great job — those lines are perfect for her (it’s a shame, really, the second novella is the only one not being mined for season 1 of the show). There are supplemental materials included with these novellas discussing the novellas and how elements of them will be used in the show. Those were interesting enough, but I really couldn’t care that much.
I don’t care how the TV show does (easier to say before I watch a second of it), but I’ll gladly read more novellas/novels about Letty. Actually, maybe novella length is best for her kind of story, something about the compressed timeline works well for the high-stakes energy that these are filled with.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.
N.B.: As this was an ARC, any quotations above may be changed in the published work — I will endeavor to verify them as soon as possible.