"The Lies of Locke Lamora" is the first in a projected series of seven books detailing the adventures of The Gentleman Bastards, a gang of thieves and conmen from the Venice-like city of Camorr. It's a ripping yarn full of larger-than-life characters, something akin to "Moll Flanders" meets "Pulp Fiction"; mostly light-hearted but with moments of savage violence, as befits the protagonist's devil-take-the-hindmost attitude to life. There is one torture scene that literally gave me nightmares, which rather puts me off buying the rest of the series - a pity, as it is otherwise good fun.
The mix of traditional fantasy elements (pre-gunpowder weapons, mages) with vaguely SF/clockpunk elements like the advanced architectural technology of the long-departed Elders, the intricate Heath-Robinsonian human inventions and the pseudo-science of alchemy combine in a heady mix of otherworldliness, making Camorr a city you'll remember long after you close the book. If the description is occasionally a little heavy-handed (please, Scott, can it sometimes be just the wind, not the Hangman's Wind?), it's still damned impressive for a debut novel, especially from someone who is still under 30.
Only one thing really takes the edge off an otherwise great book: the dialogue. I'm not at all averse to swearing, but in "Lies" it is at times overdone and inappropriate. It's one thing for the Gentleman Bastards to be effing and blinding amongst themselves, but the Bondsmage? Don Salvara? Considering that the city is sharply divided into the haves and have-nots, the frankly rather unimaginative swearing sometimes gives the dialogue a homogeneous, classless (or rather lower-class) flavour that spoils the overall effect. The characters' voices become almost indistinguishable from one another at times, and sound anachronistic to boot, like Lynch had been watching a lot of Quentin Tarantino movies to get in the mood.
Judging by things he has said in interviews, Lynch is a fan of "Serenity" and presumably "Firefly" (the tone of the book reminded me very much of the show). IMHO he should study Jos Whedon's work a bit more closely: learn how to write really cracking dialogue and most importantly, be a bit more creative with his cursing!