Shrinkage, a term that was never properly mentioned or defined in Chuck Dixon’s novel of the same name, surprisingly has nothing to do with that notorious episode of Seinfeld, rather, refers to reductions in inventory, primarily due to employee theft, which is the exact target that this fast-paced crime novel hits exceedingly well.
Dixon has a strong voice in the action and crime genre, especially after a 15+ year stint on Batman and Batman-related comics for DC, and spotlights both, in what really could be classified as a novella, this time featuring Jeff, a small-goods thief working the Market Street department stores in a 1970s Philadelphia. When Jeff attempts a bigger score, he quickly learns that the higher risks can bring greater pain. And Jeff gets hurt. A lot.
In Shrinkage, Dixon keeps his storytelling lean. Jeff is focused and determined, which can be read as stubborn, enough to keep getting back up on that bucking bronco. Likewise, Dixon focuses on Jeff, keeping supporting characters in the peripheral until needed. The story is tight, fast, and fun and the setting, complete with such long-gone Philly-centric references such as Gimbels, WDAS-AM, the Bulletin, and both the Vet and Spectrum that the former Philadelphian-author must have enjoyed playing with, is unique. Jeff, however, is not one of those thieves-with-a-heart-of-gold. Yes, he shines a lighter shade of gray next to the story’s other hard-line antagonists, but he’s certainly not that nice of a guy, which might be the only downfall of the tale. The reader never really wants to Jeff get away with it all, rather, just to have Jeff go away.
Shrinkage is a steal of read where the only true theft is that the story ends too soon.