________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 28. . . .March 22, 2013


Sunset Key. (Rapid Reads).

Blake Crouch.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2013.
141 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0253-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0254-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0255-1 (epub).

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Yahong Chi.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“The painting is hanging in Fitch’s office on the wall behind his desk. My intel is that there’s no theft-security system. You just have to cut it out of the frame.”

“Cut it?”

“Careful. Like shooting heroin into your femoral artery careful. There’s a razor blade hidden on the bottom of your handbag, under a piece of black electrical tape.”

“I’m not comfortable with that,” Letty said.


“Because they’ll probably search the handbag, don’t you think?”

“Where do you want to hide it?”

“I’ll think of something. What kind of bag is it?”

“Try to control yourself. Louis Vuitton.”

“Up to this point, the accessories are far and away the best part of this job. Them, I keep.”

“We’ll see.”

“And once I get the canvas out of the frame?”

“Roll it up. You’ll find a plastic tube taped to the underside of Fitch’s desk. Stick the rolled-up canvas inside and get yourself to the eastern edge of the island.”

“What about cameras?”


“What about the people who actually see me up close? Who can identify me and describe me to law enforcement?”

“You’ll be a redhead tonight.”

“That’s it?”

“What do you want, a latex mask? This isn’t Mission Impossible. This is the price you pay for a shot at four million dollars.”

Letty felt something go cold at the base of her spine.

Without exception, this was the most dangerous job she’d ever signed on for.


A fast-paced thriller written in spare, efficient prose, Blake Crouch’s Sunset Key hooks the reader effortlessly with minimalistic style. A gritty, jaded atmosphere permeates the story, making readers right at home in the dirty underbelly of Letty’s con world, brutally snappy dialogue, exotic locales and all.

      Letty is at once prickly and emotionally resonant. Her surface façade is tough and edgy enough to deal with other shady characters believably. Meanwhile, her interior wishes and hopes are revealed gradually, exposing a relatable, touching side to her. The growth of her character through the story makes her easy to root for, and the strength she find in herself at the end is fitting for this survival story.

      The pace moves swiftly, not lingering overlong in any one setting; even slow scenes are charged with subtle meaning. Once the twist is revealed, the stakes skyrocket. Clipped, crisp writing narrates the action, which is nonstop for a good four chapters. Crouch intersperses the action with brief links to Letty’s past, rounding her out and deepening the emotional connection for both her and the reader.

      With a contrastingly quiet yet satisfying ending that brings the protagonist almost full circle, Sunset Key is a quick, electrifying read that holds much appeal to thriller readers.


Yahong Chi is a writer and blogger in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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