cover image Pretty Things

Pretty Things

Janelle Brown. Random House, $28 (496p) ISBN 978-0-525-47912-3

In this mixed heist tale, Brown (Watch Me Disappear) pits two con artists against a socialite, but a shared history makes their job messier than usual. Nina and her boyfriend Lachlan prey on Los Angeles’s young, careless, and wealthy, taking largely unmissed goods from their homes that can be resold for small fortunes. When Nina’s mom learns that her cancer has returned and the police turn up investigating Nina and Lachlan’s crime spree, the couple decide to leave town and take a swing at an instant payday—the $1 million Nina knows is in a safe in the Lake Tahoe mansion of her ex-boyfriend, Benny, which is currently occupied by his Instagram-influencer sister, Vanessa. But their efforts to scam Vanessa turn up more surprises than they expected, and Nina’s attempts to hide her identity blow up. Despite a catchy opening, the stakes fade and the narrative flags during Nina and Lachlan’s overlong ruse, and long flashbacks and shifts in perspective drag out what quickly becomes a predictable storyline. There’s promise here, but many readers will find their interest waning. (May)