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One bag of money.  One kidnapped girl.  

One shot at redemption.

"This outstanding crime thriller . . . grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck and never lets go. . . . Hankins skillfully keeps the story from going warm and fuzzy as Stokes gropes toward redemption." — Publishers Weekly (starred review) 


"[A] fine, offbeat novel . . . crammed with crackling dialogue and characters who are . . . true to life." — Booklist

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Publishers Weekly (starred review) SHADY CROSS 

This outstanding crime thriller from Hankins (Brothers and Bones) grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck and never lets go. When second-rate crook Stokes ransacks a wrecked car that’s run off a country road near Shady Cross, Ind., he discovers that the dead driver had a knapsack stuffed with $350,000; the bad news is that Stokes also finds a ringing cell phone that announces the money was ransom for the dead man’s little daughter.


His first impulse is to ditch the phone and run with the cash. Instead, Stokes plays along with the kidnappers over the phone, trying to figure out their plan and save the child. He has no experience as a hero, and the new role forces him into situations that are deadly dangerous and grotesquely hilarious—while the kidnappers keep calling every hour to threaten the girl.


Hankins skillfully keeps the story from going warm and fuzzy as Stokes gropes toward redemption.”  — Publishers Weekly






“Antihero is too kind a term for Stokes. He’s an ex-con; he robs the fellow on the next bar stool. He abandoned a wife and daughter because they were too much trouble. His last break-in may have left the householder dead. And he carries this fine, offbeat novel. The author’s skill in bringing this off is magical, since Stokes is not an engaging rogue—though his droll humor is evident—and he’s not a heel with a heart of gold like those Bogart characters.


When he comes upon a backpack loaded with cash and learns it’s to ransom a little girl who’s being tortured, his immediate reaction is to blow town with the money, the hell with the kid. Fate intervenes, and Stokes is off on a twisty plot that brings him up against people—some outwardly splendid—who could give him lessons in baseness.


As the narrative winds to its hurtful conclusion, we understand that by trying to rescue the girl, Stokes rescues himself. We also know we’ve read a novel crammed with crackling dialogue and characters who are, unfortunately, all too true to life.”

—  Booklist (Don Crinklaw)  



In one hand, small-time crook Stokes holds a backpack stuffed with someone else’s money—three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of it.

In the other hand, Stokes has a cell phone, which he found with the money. On the line, a little girl he doesn’t know asks, “Daddy? Are you coming to get me? They say if you give them money they’ll let you take me home.”


From bestselling author James Hankins comes a wrenching story of an unscrupulous man torn between his survival instincts and the plight of a true innocent. Faced with the choice, Stokes discovers his conscience might not be as corroded as he thought.


Tags:  Kidnapping, Vigilante Justice, Heist, Crime, Mystery Suspense, Thriller


What Reviewers & Bloggers are Saying about 



The Marblehead Reporter  
"[E]xcellent crime entertainment . . . "  
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— You Can Read Me Anything (reviewer/blogger)

"Stokes is a brilliantly-executed protagonist. He’s done more bad than good in his life, but that doesn’t stop you from rooting for him . . . A story of struggle and redemption that’s an absolute pleasure to read."  Read More 


— Life Is Story (reviewer/blogger)
"[A] powerful story of redemption with plenty of thrills . . ."  Read More 



“[D] efining what makes James' writing so fine is a tough task - reading him is a better approach than critiquing him. But this book is such a perfect craft that it makes us eager to jump into another one - soon. Highly Recommended." —Grady Harp, San Francisco Review of Books  

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 B O O K S   

Click on covers for book descriptions, reviews, and buy/pre-order links. 

A Blood Thing
The Inside Dark
The Prettiest One
Shady Cross
Brothers and Bones
Jack of Spades
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