Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
on 10 June 2007
"I want you to steal something for me"
Good opening line don't you think? and just what has he got to steal? Let's carry on reading and find out. This request is asked of our hero Charlie Howard. He write caper novels about a career thief and he doesn't have to carry out any background research as he is one himself.
He is asked to steal two monkey figurines. On the face of it they are worthless. They are in two separate locations and he has to steal them both on the same night. Charlie is not sure about this and says no, but then he changes his mind. Of course, later on when the man who asked him so steal them turns up dead, he begins to wish he had stuck to his original refusal but by then he is well and truly up the creek or in the canal (we are in Amsterdam after all) and too late to get out of it.
While trying to find the killer and prove that he is innocent, and the police don't appear to be convinced, he also has to find a way of sorting out a plot hole in his latest novel. Needless to say, his mind is not really focused on this task and spends a lot of time discussing the fix he is in with his agent in London, Victoria, instead of sorting out the problem of getting an all important briefcase with a severed hand in it, to the right place at the right time in order to uncover the murderer without making it too easy for his readers to guess who it is too early in the book. There is a subtle hint here that Victoria rather likes him, she sounds a tad miffed when he gets involved with a glamorous, pot smoking blonde, and is a bit sarky about it all.
The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam is fast paced, imaginative and a cracking good read packed with sardonic humour:
".....I knew the moment we reached my apartment that someone else had been inside. Call it a burglar's intuition. Call it the small things I'd learned during my years of breaking and entering. Call it the fact that my door had been smashed clean off its hinges and was lying flat on my living room floor"
At the end of the book when all the twists and turns have been unravelled and the murderer has been identified, Charlie decides that he has had enough of Amsterdam and decamps to Paris and one assumes there will soon be a Good Thief's Guide to that city. Who knows where he will go to after that? I trust we are in for a good long series and this one has got it off to a great start. Chris Ewan is the 2007 winner of the First Novel Competition sponsored by Long Barn Books and on the strength of this debut, I don't think it will be his last.