When the novel begins, protagonist Karl Heisler has just been released from a five-year prison stint, his third imprisonment to date. With 14 years behind bars, Heisler reflects on his life as a criminal and family man. Walking through San Francisco, Heisler thinks to himself that he has to find his old cellmate Frank Toschi. The two have a heist to plan.
In the clinger, Heisler met a wiseguy mobster who once worked at a posh Syndicate casino. On his deathbed, the mobster provides Heisler intricate details on how to rob the place. Who would even dream of stealing from the mob? Heisler dwells on the proposed heist during his last few months in the pen. With the help of his former cellmate Toschi, the two hope to knock over the casino and then split for parts unknown.
The Big Grab reads like a typical heist novel penned by the likes of Richard Stark, Lionel White, or Dan Marlowe. Trinian's novel is compelling and driven by the details and planning of the heist. An interesting addition is Heisler wife and child – the former ready to divorce him and the latter believing that Heisler is a sales guy. Like most of these crime-fiction novels, the heist never goes according to plan. The Big Grab adds some twists and turns in the finale that added an additional spark to the predictability.
Heisler is a dynamic main character with an abundance of emotional and family baggage. I enjoyed Trinian's rich subtext of the lifetime criminal finding himself imprisoned with civilian life and the overbearing strains of normalcy. Trinian cleverly reveals the addiction of criminality through an enjoyable, exciting prose. If you enjoy the caper or heist novel, then The Big Grab is sure to please.