Deceit and Devotion

RM Johnson. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, $15 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4391-8057-0

There’s no end to the mischief in this fourth installment of Johnson’s popular Million Dollar series, a revved-up revenge plot set in an urban jungle where aching poverty and fabulous wealth are stuck in a ruthlessly complicated life-and-death dance. Lucky-in-business-and-lousy-at-love Monica is haunted by a shooting that put her in a coma for weeks; savvy survivor Lewis, who hopes to help a teen stuck in poverty and crime, as he once was; soulless gunman Freddy, getting back at his enemies even from behind bars; and demonic conniver Nate, who stops at nothing to punish anyone who deceives him, even if it means destroying a mother-son bond. There’s also the return of the brothers who marked Johnson’s compelling 1999 debut, The Harris Men: Caleb, trying to reconcile his past and win back a son who seems doomed to make the same mistakes as his long-missing father; respectable lawyer Austin; and out-of-work artistic Marcus. The cast is too crowded for anyone but devoted fans to appreciate, but Johnson’s breathtaking pace pulls you along in this gritty soap opera, and a poignant theme of children growing up in broken families resonates. A chilling, abrupt ending points to another sequel sure to thrill Johnson devotees. Agent: Andrew Stuart, the Stuart Agency. (Mar.)