Rating: 4 out of 5
Note: this book was originally published under the name “Natalie Edwards,” but is currently being published under “T.C. Parker.”
T.C. Parker’s crime novel The Push: El Gardener Book 2 is a follow-on to The Debt. I highly recommend reading that first; otherwise I think you’ll get a bit confused by the number of characters and references to important back-story.
El Gardener, her mentor Ruby (who taught her how to run cons), and the rest of their “gang” realize they’re in trouble when one of Ruby’s twin sons gets stabbed on the doorstep of the safehouse they’re currently staying in. When someone also tries to stab Sita (a good friend and compatriot of Ruby’s), in the same location and with a knife she recognizes, they realize they have a serious problem.
We get to watch the group pull several cons over the course of the book, and they have enemies who are trying to play them as well. There are frame jobs, one of Ruby’s sons (almost) getting conned by someone, revenge plots, old grudges, blackmail, and the possibility that an old enemy, Hannah, who was part of the previous book, might be behind what’s going on. It’s so much fun to watch El in particular do her thing, since she’s an “inside woman.” I also love the fact that in their line of work “real” violence is considered cheating, and they all go out of their way to survive on their wits.
The timeline jumps around a lot, which left me confused in places. The “present day” is 1997, but the timeline includes stops in 1955, 1972, and a wide array of back-and-forth months in 1997. I really wish it had been a bit simplified. This is my only real complaint about this book, however. If your memory is better than mine you might not mind it.
I absolutely love this caper-series, and look forward to reading book three!