Tordotcom: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Northern Heist

Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2004. Five days before Christmas. Two officials from the Northern Bank are relaxing at home with their families when their houses are invaded, kicking off one of the biggest unsolved heists in U.K. history. Former Irish Republican Army bank robber Richard O'Rawe gives a brilliant account of how it might have happened in the engrossing historical thriller Northern Heist.

James "Ructions" O'Hare and his uncle Panzer O'Hare are bank-robbing partners, but the aging Panzer's health has begun to compromise his judgment when it comes to family. Panzer's cocaine-addicted pedophile son, Finbarr, knows his dad and Ructions are planning one last big steal and thinks he's entitled to a percentage of the take. Finbarr tries to ensure a share of the money by enlisting the help of IRA bigshot Tiny Murdoch, but Tiny aims to let the robbery happen, get rid of Finbarr and keep all the money. The IRA gets a cut of any stolen bank money. They suspect what Tiny is doing. The police scramble to stop the robbery and blame it all on the IRA no matter what. Ructions must outsmart all the backstabbing, kneecapping thugs standing between him and the biggest cash grab of his life.

It's unclear which banks Richard O'Rawe targeted or how big a role he played in those heists, but his dialogue and pacing certainly imply he was there. The brutal men in his world do just as much damage with a hard look as they can with a bullet, all while sticking to a kind of honor among thieves that metes out swift justice to those who don't. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer