With Friends Like These – Recap

Devlin O’Brien, up-and-coming art thief, is in very serious trouble.  When his old friend, partner, and the mastermind of some of his greatest successes suddenly betrays him on a job, leaving him for the Parisian police, Devlin finds himself at the mercy of the justice system.  Without any hope of dodging the charges – for crimes that, in fairness, he had been about to commit – he is tried, convicted, and imprisoned with some of the worst criminals that Europe has to offer for nearly three years.  Only the mentorship of the gentleman thief, Patrick Lance, helps Devlin to keep his sanity while he was behind bars; only his innate ability to think on his feet keeps him alive.

Six months before the end of his sentence, Devlin is inexplicably broken out of prison, via the machinations of an unknown player who seems to know every one of the thief’s moves, even before he can make them.  Despite his best efforts to slip free of any unseen nooses or traps, Devlin falls short of the mark, and is approached by a messenger at a particularly vulnerable moment.  The delivery is not a set of instructions, nor a threat, but simply information: Asher’s location, from only a few days before the jailbreak.  With these new documents in hand, and a bevy of questions bouncing around in his head, Devlin sets off to find revenge for the botched Paris job.

His first stop is Munich, to retrieve a set of passports he’d never planned to use again.  His old friend, Alexander Jeager, helps him to infiltrate the beer hall where the passports are hidden; when things go sideways, it’s the younger Jeager, Ally, who assists Devlin in navigating the crowded ballroom of twenty-something fans, all set to the driving music of the band Tokio Hotel.  Difficulties notwithstanding, Devlin emerges from the tumult with a new passport in hand, a little extra spending money, and two new – if woefully unsuitable – allies, waiting in the wings.

From Munich, Devlin travels to Kiev, the location listed in his packet of information.  There, he encounters a face he hadn’t seen since the Paris job: Anton Levchenko, bombmaker and all-around chemical expert.  Anton, also betrayed by Asher and left in the metaphorical lurch, teams up with Devlin in pursuit of the rogue criminal, only to lead them both in the presence of a representative of the Russian mafia.  Stanislav Novikof – and his bodyguards/muscle, Leonid and Iosif – is hunting Asher on orders from his Bratva superiors and the foursome proceed to run the man down to the abandoned docks, where Russian goods are smuggled into the country…or so they believe.  In reality, they walk headlong into a “face-to-face” meeting with Asher and a lethal trap.  Quick thinking is the only thing that keeps them from catching a bullet to the brain.

Forced to accept the changing circumstances, and to acknowledge that Asher has made connections powerful enough to be a serious threat, Devlin leaves the Russians to their own devices and catches a flight back to America, to confront the one person he’d hoped to avoid for as long as possible; his ex-wife, Sarah Ford.  Sarah greets Devlin with an arctic reception, at first.  As she comes into new information of her own, as well as her first job offer in months, she becomes too intrigued by the developing mystery to simply walk away.  She browbeats Devlin into working with her once more, and the two set out to steal a crown from the Museum of London (for unknown reasons) for a client (of unknown identity), in hopes that it will lead them closer to stopping Asher before he gets too much influence to be controlled or confronted.

Scattered across the globe, changed by the passage of nearly three years, Devlin’s associates and allies aren’t the assets he’d hoped for.  At least, not anymore.  But with enemies appearing at every turn, anyone else could only hope to have friends as loyal as these.

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