Volume 18, Number 3, September, 2000

Nobody's Safe

By Richard Steinberg

Bantam, 1999
Reviewed by Joseph Martino
September 2000

The main character in this book, Greg, is a career criminal—specifically, a "yegg," a safecracker. He specializes in robbing the residences of rich people, using his skills to disable burglar alarms and safes. As the story opens, he is in the process of robbing a penthouse apartment. He inadvertently witnesses a brutal murder. From then on he is on the run from both the police and whoever is behind the murder. The story is his efforts to track down the latter.

The trail leads him to a 50-year old government coverup, and eventually to Area 51. Along the way he witnesses several other murders that are part of the coverup, makes a truce with the Mafia, collects a gang of Gypsies (Romany) to help him, joins a group of UFO buffs, allies himself with a woman TV reporter who is on the run from the same group that has been murdering others as part of the coverup, and provides evidence that makes a difference in a Presidential elation. With a cast of characters like that, the action is hectic.

The title is of course a double entendre, given the occupation of the main character. In addition, the author strews some clues throughout the story, including the names "Joe and Max Gray" as somehow being part of the mystery. At one point the main character is traveling under the pseudonym "James Valentine," a play on a fictional character of several decades ago, Jimmy Valentine, the Gentleman Safe Cracker.

The libertarian elements are definitely there—the government is not to be trusted, and will kill to keep secrets—but they're not simply window-dressing. The government agents involved are not cardboard characters, but people who think they're the heros, not the villains.

The story is really action-packed and moves fast. My only problem in suspending disbelief was the electronic gadgetry. Greg uses to penetrate burglar alarms. I hold a master's degree in electrical engineering. So far as I could tell, the author's description of thee devices was simply hand-waving and smoke-blowing. He might as well have had Greg cast a spell on the alarms he was disabling. However, I'm not a specialist in burglar alarms. There might even be some validity to the descriptions. In any case, this didn't spoil the story for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would look forward to a sequel to wrap up the loose ends.

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