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Criminal Karma: A Novel Hardcover – July 28, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Robert Rivers Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When California crook Robert Rivers sets his sights on a diamond necklace worth $250,000 belonging to socialite Evelyn Evermore in Thomas's entertaining second caper novel (after Criminal Paradise), Rivers soon learns he's not the only one with designs on it. After a rival thug foils Rivers's first attempt to steal the necklace, Rivers and his rough-hewn partner, Reggie England, regroup and learn that Evermore has become a follower of Baba Raba, a charismatic guru based in sunny Venice, Calif. From posh hotels to flop houses, from ashram meetings to complicated burglaries, Rivers keeps his eye on the prize, but not without an appealing touch of knight errantry. Baba Raba, charlatan or not, has impressive powers as well as his own agenda. Rivers is a cunning and resourceful thief capable of blending into his surroundings like a chameleon or meeting force with force when necessary. He does both with charm, wit and surprising decency. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“This novel is more than a wonderful thriller and a classic caper-gone-wrong.
It’s a morality tale and a jaw-dropping tour of Southern California at its most crazy and compelling. I loved it.”—T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Renegades and L.A. Outlaws
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034549783X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497833
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,518,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Southern California, two bit crook Robert Rivers wants the diamond necklace valued at $250,000; he does not plan to pay for it, but instead plans to steal it from its owner socialite Evelyn Evermore. However, his perfect gamut is nuked by a competitor wanting to claim the same prize and somewhat by his all brawn no brains partner Reggie England; the cops home in on Rivers and England.

Rivers like his surname flows to another scheme. He knows the lightweight Evermore is a New Age freak and in fact is a disciple of popular guru Baba Raba. Rivers figures how hard can be to infiltrate the base of a charlatan in Venice. However, as he begins to learn more about Evermore Rivers he begins to like her as she is not the dimwit socialite he thought , but has substance; and for that matter so does the guru. As typical of his capers, all hell breaks loose as he and his sidekick are protecting their targets from a diabolical crime ring.

This is a zany satirical crime caper that hooks the audience from the first failed plan to the last. The story line is brisk and amusing as Rivers figures his crime karma is so negative, his time is due to balance his cosmic scales. Instead he finds himself deeper in the cosmic ooze as once again (see CRIMINAL PARADISE) the best laid plans of mice and licentious souls go astray.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a good caper and heist book, a thriller to boot, this may be just up your alley. Rob and Reggie are two burglars with their eye on a set of large pink diamonds. At first, their plan fails and they have to go at it again. With the second try, things really heat up as they become involved with a crooked ashram in Santa Monica, California. Baba Raba, the Guru, also has his eyes on the diamond which he expects to get from one of his disciples.

The book has a lot of action and quick turns of event. It lacks some in the characterization department. I would have liked Rob and Reggie to have been fleshed out a little more. We find out that Rob has a daughter that is 'lost' to him but we are never told what happened. Perhaps this was in the previous book. Reggie is a fun guy but I would have liked to know more about his background. Other than that, prepare yourself for an action packed read.
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Format: Hardcover
Criminal Karma is the second book featuring Robert Rivers, a thief who has plans for a big score, but finds that life can get complicated very quickly. This time the goal is a set of pink diamonds that belong to Evelyn Evermore. The first attempt is almost a complete fiasco, but Rivers learns that the diamonds are to be given to the guru Baba Raba. Raba's ashram is not far from the dilapidated rooms in which Rivers and his sidekick Reggie hang out. They go for some yoga classes and find more than they expected, including a girl that makes it very hard for Rivers to keep his mind on enlightenment.

Evelyn is also a member at the ashram and Rivers starts feeling sympathetic toward her. He decides that it is just as well that she has given the diamonds to the guru, because he doesn't want to steal from a friend. Baba Raba is no friend, and he may well be a lot worse. Throw in a possibly crooked developer a multi-million dollar deal, and the heat really picks up.

Steven M. Thomas has created a very sympathetic antihero in Robert Rivers. He makes no apologies for being a thief and intends to be the very best at his chosen vocation. His relationship with Reggie is delightfully drawn. The supporting cast is just as well rounded. There are no simple caricatures here, even the people who park the cars are given their own identity. Rivers himself is a fount of information about the world he lives in, but the information never gets in the way of the story. The story itself is a fun romp that takes us from the poshest resorts to rooms that are ready to be condemned. It is the kind of book that you could pick up and read again just for the delight of it.
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Format: Hardcover
I seem to be the only reviewer to notice this so maybe it's something wrong with me but: The dialogue is terrible. I expected a modern, witty, crime caper with a lovable anti-hero and yes, I got that. The plot isn't bad, it seems a bit rushed in places, a little boring and a bit nonsensical at times not to mention very predictable at the end but it's not bad. Not amazing, but not bad. The thing I hated most about this was the dialogue, I was hoping for something like Elmore Leonard's jobs but there is nothing even close to realistic in the dialogue.
I don't think I can emphasise enough how bad it is, I'm focusing on this mainly because it does detract from an otherwise readable book, I found just when I was getting into the plot and what was going on my mind was tripped up because a character says, "There is a way we can do it", (not an actual quote, an example), people don't talk like that, so why would criminals in Los Angeles in the 1990's speak like that?
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Format: Hardcover
Steven M. Thomas has followed up his killer first novel, "Criminal Paradise," with another colorful, exciting and well written crime fiction saga set in Southern California --this time in Venice Beach and the Coachella Valley. Robert Rivers, Thomas' burglar/stickup man hero, and his ex-biker sidekick Reggie England are after a fabulous diamond necklace. When they follow socialite Evelyn Evermore out to the desert to steal it, everything that can go wrong does go wrong and they end up on the run. But Rivers doesn't give up easily and he soon regroups and goes after the diamonds again in Venice Beach where Evelyn lives and is a disciple of a 300 pound guru named Baba Raba who parades around town in nothing but a loincloth, luring in new followers to his Center for Enlightened Beings. Rivers soon discovers that Baba is after the same prize piece of jewelry he is, and the game is on with gunfights, safecracking and tense encounters with the cops. As in the first novel, Thomas does a super job of capturing the atmosphere and ambiance of the SoCal coast, and even works in some romance between Rivers and tough young lady he meets at Baba's ashram. There is also a totally winning character named Ozone Pacific -- a homeless kid who turns out to be the key to the whole mystery that surrounds Evelyn, Baba, and the matched, rose-colored diamond necklace. Because of the quality of the writing and the depth of character development, I recommend this book to readers of literary novels as well as mystery and crime fiction fans.
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