At Crime Reads: Planning a Heist with Your Spouse

Not quite what it sounds like, unfortunately! It sounds exciting! But no, this post is about co-writing a heist novel with your spouse.

In the pages of our first heist together, we competed with each other to introduce new twists, upsetting the other’s carefully constructed plans. We found it to be a unique piece of our cowriting—one we’d never discovered in our previous novels—with two authors, we were able to build more reversals, some that even caught each other by surprise. 

This is Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, who have previously written romances. This heist story is, oh, it’s a YA heist novel! I didn’t see that coming. It’s called Heiress Takes All.

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Owens isn’t thrilled that her dad’s getting remarried…again. She’s especially not thrilled that he cheated on her mom, kicked them out of their Rhode Island home, and cut Olivia out of her rightful inheritance.

But this former heiress has a plan for revenge. While hundreds of guests gather on the grounds of the gorgeous estate where she grew up, everyone will be thinking romance—not robbery. She’ll play the part of dutiful daughter, but in reality she’ll be redistributing millions from her father’s online accounts. She only needs the handwritten pass code he keeps in the estate’s safe.

Wow, she sounds vindictive. Even vicious. This description did not do nearly enough to persuade me the dad deserves to have millions stolen by a brat daughter who’s mad he’s getting remarried. That’s what this sounds like to me. Granted, the reviews do a better job persuading me she’s got more reason than teenage pique to steal a huge amount of money from her dad. How about putting that in the description, not leaving it for a reviewer to communicate to potential readers? Here’s how this story starts.

I really shouldn’t have worn heels to my very first heist.

They cost me only seconds on the stairs, possibly less. Seconds might be critical, though, in moments like this. I reach the bottom steps, then the dark wood of the basement corridors, where I pause to pull off my pumps.

Ugh. More lost moments.

The instant they’re in my hand, straps hung on my rubbed-raw fingers, I run.

Footsteps pound behind me. Not the ominous rhythm of two feet or even the hectic syncopation of four. This is a crowd.

The long passageways I’ve ducked into mock me with their formality, their elegance. The white baseboards give way to pink paint; deep, dark hardwood floors where the balls of my bare feet thump with every step, crown molding which … I only know what crown molding is because Dad would not stop pointing out to guests that the crown molding dated back to the 1800s.

I mean, it’s not bad, but I’m not that interested either. I know the authors have to set the scene, but this seems like the protagonist is paying an awful lot of attention and spending a lot of time thinking about the decor, considering she’s running away from a crowd of people. Also, I don’t know why her fingers have been rubbed raw, which makes me wonder whether the act of pulling off her shoes cause actual physical trauma to her fingers. That seems unlikely. But what other activity could have led to this kind of injury? I’m paging ahead through the sample and I still can’t tell. The authors are leaving us completely in the dark about what this girl just did that has resulted in her running away down dark basement corridors (dark, but the baseboards are white and the paint is pink? How dark can they be?). I guess the description is supposed to suffice as orientation for the reader, but I would actually like more orientation right here in the story.

Well, never mind, moving on. This definitely makes me think of a recent-ish Book Riot post: Get Ready to Read 10 of the Best Thrilling YA Heist Novels

I didn’t actually look at the post, just thought — when I saw the title — oh, heists, I like heists, I should look at that sometime. Well, this is certainly the time. What thrilling YA heist novels are we talking about? I wonder if Heiress Takes All is on the list. Also, I’m once again pausing to say to myself, “YA Heist Novels” is a whole category? Who knew?

Oh, look at this, the Book Riot post appears to have been sponsored by the publisher of Heiress Takes All, which is Little, Brown. I didn’t realize Book Riot had sponsors. I’m guessing that Little, Brown thinks this is a good time to get people thinking there is a category of YA Heist Novels.

Anyway, this post begins: If you’re down for thrills and screams, in these next novels, you’ll find heists that take you to highs and lows you won’t expect, intriguing plot lines, untrustworthy characters, and endings that you think about even days after finishing the book. If you’re a fan of adventures, secrets, and complex challenges, you’ll want to read these thrilling YA heist novels right away.

Ah hah, didn’t see this coming, very strong SFF flavor to this Heist list. What do you suppose the list ends with? You might have guessed it, even though I didn’t:

Good choice, Book Riot! I’m liking the whole list better now — I mean, if The Thief is on this list, then the list was put together by someone whose taste aligns with mine to at least some extent. Though I like most of the sequels better than this one. Personally, I think it’s hard to beat The King of Attolia, though I know a lot of people put The Queen of Attolia at the top and I can see that. They’re neck and neck for me. “Nahuseresh, if there is one thing a woman understands, it is the nature of gifts. They are bribes when threats will not avail.” Priceless moment!

Hey, you know what else might count as a heist novel??? I thought of this because any post at all at Book Riot always makes me think of this. But you could actually view Watership Down as a heist novel! Not the whole thing, but getting into General Woundwort’s warren and out again, that’s an actual heist!

Of the others, this one looks promising: A Tempest of Tea

On the streets of White Roaring, Arthie Casimir is a criminal mastermind and collector of secrets. Her prestigious tearoom transforms into an illegal bloodhouse by night, catering to the vampires feared by society. But when her establishment is threatened, Arthie is forced to strike an unlikely deal with an alluring adversary to save it―she can’t do the job alone.

Calling on some of the city’s most skilled outcasts, Arthie hatches a plan to infiltrate the sinister, glittering vampire society known as the Athereum. 

Criminal mastermind, vampires, tea … good cover too. From the top reviews, I gather this first book might end on a cliffhanger.

Anybody got a good heist novel to recommend? SFF or otherwise, doesn’t matter. I’ve got one, from a long time ago:

The story in The Great Train Robbery is based on a real heist, which gives it something difficult to capture in fiction, though I don’t think it’s all that closely based on the real crime. Crichton included a lot of description of the history and the historical setting. I really enjoyed it.

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4 thoughts on “Heists”

  1. My favourite heist is probably Skin Game from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Unfortunately it’s one of the very late books in the series, so can’t (or shouldn’t) be read on its own, or a lot of the impact would be lost if you don’t know the back story between the characters. It’s a classic heist structure, with a crew being put together with some people who know each other from a number of books ago plus some new people who are totally unknown quantities. No one trusts anyone, there’s crosses and double crosses. There’s sacred artifacts and supernatural obstacles. Great stuff.

    I would love to read more heist books. I haven’t tried Six of Crows. Lies of Locke Lamora was okay – people love it, but I didn’t find it quite as delightful as many do. Mistborn was ok (the first book is the heist story) but forgettable.

  2. Rant: why is the publisher charging $14 for an electronic version of a 20yo book, when the used hardback costs half as much?
    No royalties for a used book, and you get to resell it yourself.

  3. That is a very good question, Pete, and I should create a WHATEVER, PUBLISHERS tag for these remarkably weird pricing decisions and other publisher weirdness.

  4. I don’t know if you would consider The Will of the Many a ‘Heist’ book, but it has a terrific hero, elements of deception and lots of competence. Looking forward to the next installment of the Taranah short story.

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