THIEVES GET RICH, SAINTS GET SHOT is the intriguing if unwieldy title of Jodi Compton’s fourth novel. It marks the return of Hailey Cain, her compelling and somewhat unlikely anti-hero who was first introduced in HAILEY’S WAR. Cain is a West Point dropout --- actually, make that a force out. While in the midst of her training, Cain was diagnosed with a tiny but progressive brain tumor, the immediate effect of which makes her impervious to fear. Combine that with significant aptitude and training in the martial arts, and you have a formidable adversary on any field of battle.
"Compton has created an unusual character in Hailey Cain, who shows every indication of becoming more and more interesting with each new offering."
Unfortunately, such a quality does not necessarily make for a good soldier, at least in the Army sense. Cain is lethal and violent, though not a wanton killer, so he must tread carefully. By both a combination and succession of circumstances, Cain, a white blond, found herself as the second-in-command of a Hispanic female street gang in Los Angeles and minus one finger at the conclusion of HAILEY’S WAR, walking on the wrong side of the law on a regular basis.
The thrust of THIEVES GET RICH, SAINTS GET SHOT concerns a situation whereby Cain, securely ensconced in the gang and engaging in such pursuits as hijacking pharmaceutical trucks, suddenly and inexplicably finds herself accused of the murder of a policeman and an elderly woman in San Francisco. The “inexplicably” part enters the picture because Cain has been busily breaking the law in Los Angeles and has not been in San Francisco for some time. Yet she is positively identified as the elderly woman’s housekeeper, right down to her fingerprints on the ammunition. Cain’s identity has obviously been stolen, and she has at least the glimmer of an idea how it occurred. Proving it, though, is another matter, and this is where the book really gets interesting.
With police in two jurisdictions looking for her as a suspected cop killer, Cain and her chief, Warchild, embark on a half-brilliant, half-crazy quest to discover the woman who stole Cain’s identity and to put things as right as possible with the police. Obviously this will not be easy, and Cain must rely on all of her combat skills as well as tricks of the criminal trade she has learned on the street in order to attempt to prove her innocence and give the police the real culprit. Several lives, including her own, will be changed by the time she is through, setting things up for future installments of the series. But a significant clock is ticking throughout this novel and any subsequent volumes. Remember that tiny tumor? It is growing --- and will be fatal. Cain is not expected to see her 30th birthday.
Compton is more than willing to put Cain through a number of dangerous situations with each successive book. While complete in itself, THIEVES GET RICH, SAINTS GET SHOT is best read in light of HAILEY’S WAR, as it seems to be a transitional work in which Cain will be experiencing yet another groundswell change in her life, one that will bring her West Point education and street life experience together. Compton has created an unusual character in Hailey Cain, who shows every indication of becoming more and more interesting with each new offering.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 12, 2011