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"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.

Great stuff
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on 8 January 2013
Ok, the anti-hero in the series of 'Good Thief's Guide to........' books is hardly 'Raffles' (the gentleman thief) but I really like his style so far. The lead character certainly gets himself IN and OUT of some nasty and dangerous scrapes that really do keep you guessing just HOW the hell will he manage to escape them. Some of the content is a bit 'graphic' but that's what takes it away from a 'David Niven Pink Panther' story and more into a thinking mans 'Lockstock and Two Smoking.....' style of story.
Based on this book I will defininately down load others in the series.
I also really enjoyed 'Safe House' by Chris Ewan and downloaded this book based on that and wasn't disappointed.
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on 13 June 2007
This is a fun, fast-moving and highly original crime novel.. caper crime, just like the books written by its protagonist, Charlie Howard. Inventing new main characters for crime novels is hard as they`ve all been done, but I`ve never met a hero like Charlie.. who writes novels about a career thief and also happens to be one.The book might well be the insider`s guide to the lovcely city of Amsterdam too, since the author is obviously very familiar with it - we don`t get the usual tourist route. I was very impressed by this debut and I read a lot of crime fiction. I look forward to more of the adventures of the Good Thief - apparently there are more to come. Good. We need a fresh new series like this.
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on 7 March 2013
I nearly gave up on this book quite near the beginning and consigned it to the slush pile of cheap kindle downloads that aren't worth the few pence I paid for them. However, I was mildly interested in one aspect of the plot, so I kept going. Other reviewers mentioned the complicated ending and I would have to agree with them, although mainly, it was the lack of detail in the writing that put me off. Unless I missed it, I cannot recall reading any description of the main character other than he was of slight build and one oblique reference to his lack of attractiveness. I appreciate the book was written in the first person and people don't generally go around describing their own features to themselves, but I feel it would have been possible to get a bit of detail in there somewhere. It would please me to think that this was, in fact, a clever ploy by the author to keep Charlie's identity a secret due to the furtive nature of his chosen trade. Unfortunately, I think it is just an odd style of writing. The author then further threw me by over-describing some exceptionally mundane things such as how Charlie took a few bites of food followed by how he washed the accumulated crumbs from between his teeth with a mouthful of beer. These are not the things I want to know!
Along with other reviewers, I also found irritating spelling mistakes, missing words and typos.
I will not be buying another book from this series, but I have downloaded Safe House, also by the same author. The reviews were very good, so I hope it will be more enjoyable.
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on 24 March 2013
Charlie Howard is a thief, which is very useful since his 'day job' is writing books about.....a thief. He's in Amsterdam when he's contacted with an unusual request - someone wants him to steal two cheap-looking monkey figurines. Although he's wary about it, he decides to go for it and is successful after some initial difficulty. Things get complicated when his client turns up dead, and the policeman in charge of the murder investigation seems to want to build a case against Charlie.

To add to his worries, his London publishing agent, Victoria, is on his case to fix a plot hole in his latest manuscript, so we get occasional conversations between the two, with Victoria chipping in the odd suggestion for his legal fix. Nothing and no-one is quite what they seem here, with occasionally hilarious, but always riveting consequences. Recommended.
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on 22 April 2013
Having already read Chris Ewan's 'Safe House', I thought it only fair to go backwards to his debut release.
It's cleverly written with a plot that you know will be solved but you feel you are led up so many blind alley's.
It's not 'heavy duty' crime fiction and has a humorous element built in.
The main character, Charlie Howard is a burglar with a difference, more of a poacher turned game keeper which is an unfortunate 'pastime'. His official occupation is a writer but it's not long before he inadvertently becomes embroiled in deep rooted theft on a grand scale.
I'd thoroughly recommend Chris Ewan on the strength of two very different books. I've got 'Paris' on the Kindle starting blocks already.
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on 26 October 2014
It started out really well but toward the end the author seemed to loose his way and couldn't think of how to end the story. Eventually taking a lead from Hercule Poirot and gathering all the protagonists into one place and going through the reasons why each of the innocents couldn't be guilty eventually revealing who dunnit, a character who had been obvious from early on in the read. A great disappointment.
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Having read "Safe House" by Chris Ewan and thoroughly enjoying it, I was pleased to discover this set of books. Charlie is a novelist who writes novels about a thief and is also a thief himself. Whilst in Amsterdam he is approached by an American who wants him to steal some apparently worthless monkey figurines on his behalf. High jinks ensue when he decides to oblige and what follows is probably the most fun I've had with a novel for a long time. If you are a sucker for a good "heist" film then this is probably the best you will get in novel form. Seriously enjoyable, well written with great characters. Enjoy!
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on 26 April 2014
This is the second book in the series I've read, and again it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Light hearted enough to act as an antidote to some of the darker crime fiction I like. Packed with humour, great descriptions of Amsterdam and a good old fashioned mystery to keep you guessing until the last few pages.
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on 22 March 2013
Enjoyed this book, it was an easy read and entertaining. It is not going to set the world of literature on fire, but a good bedtime or holiday book. I will download the others in the series. I downloaded this because I first read the Safe House by the same author and enjoyed it. While this book is written in a different style to the Safe House it is still worth the read.
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