The Debt - by T.C.Parker
I’ve long admired T.C.Parker’s writing, having discovered it through Salvation Spring (within pages I was thrilled at what was in store for me and loving the voice– justifiably so), so I’ve had The Long Con - in its three individual parts - long on my radar. I was fortunate enough to be on a mini holiday – so its time had come.
The debt is a setup. I say that in the best possible way, its primary function is to immerse the reader in the world that T.C. then expands, and to do so with a bang. Something to grab the attention of the reader and make them want to read the rest of the series. And it achieves its goal – consider me hooked and biting at the bit, wanting more of El and her co-conspirators. A quick perusal of the comments on Goodreads shows the same sentiment – everybody rushing on into the next book, wanting to know how the story expands. Leaving that aside, however, I wanted to focus this review on the character work in The debt – its core strength. The plot is good, and the twists are all nice and dark and turny, but that feeling of wanting more is a direct result of Nat’s investment in her characters.
The Title character, El Gardener, is introduced in her early days, in the middle of a con. It’s got a nice feel to it, the reader becomes aware of the addiction the character feels, and how that feeling is going to shape her life. There are elements in this book that I think were left unexplored but the characters' motivations, backgrounds, and relationships with one another were all covered perfectly.
There are obviously going to be comparisons to Oceans Eleven, (but with women) – but it’s undeserved. The turn of this book swings sharply toward horror (though it doesn’t dwell there too long). There’s threat, here. One of the characters is beaten sufficiently to receive brain damage, so what starts off as a happy-go-lucky con quickly turns into “are the stakes worth it?” – and that element of fear remains throughout the remaining chapters.
I’d say this skirted the edges of my favorite genre, but I knew that going in, and it didn’t dissuade me from the book at all – character is king and the plot happily delivers on your fears, there’s enough violence, when it happened, to have had me wanting that bloody touch in the remaining books.
I’m giving this an enjoyable 4⭐ ‘s out of 5, and I look forward to seeing where it is all going to go wrong in the next book. And I’m guessing it is going to go very, very wrong.