Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Like some smiles in your mystery?  There are quite a few to be found in The Good Thief’s Guide To Berlin, another masterful blend of mirth and mystery in Chris Ewan’s Good Thief series.  Seldom has a fellow with such a distinctly larcenous bent been as likable as novelist/thief Charlie Howard.  He’s self-effacing (always good for a chuckle), clever and ofttimes foolhardy -  this time in rainy Berlin.

The Good Thief series not only boasts intriguing characters but painterly descriptions of settings, witty aside to cover almost any situation, and well honed plots.  Now, Charlie has one guiding principle - “Don’t Get Caught.”  Plus, he has a list of rules such as he doesn’t leave a mess after breaking in, doesn’t steal anything of sentimental value, etc.  And this time out he needs to add a new rule - “Don’t admire the view.”

At the behest of his agent, Victoria Newbury, Charlie is supposed to be working on his next novel.  Instead he’s taken on a new client, in part because he believes he’s doing a service for the British government.  This is a rather complex case - a British embassy representative is offering him a tidy sum to retrieve something that he’s unable to describe, simply saying
You’ll know it when you see it.”  Charlie is supposed to search the homes of four people, each of whom may have the valued object.

The first apartment he enters seems to hold nothing of value.  But as Charlie was in the habit of smoking and staring out a window when he “was feeling thoroughly vexed” he almost did just that save for the fact that he never smoked inside a place he had broken into.  So he simply stared out a window and saw a murder being committed across the way.  What to do?  He placed an anonymous call to the police then was thoroughly baffled when he saw them come out of the building without a corpse or a suspected murderer.

This haunts him until he and Veronica are confronted by those who would stop at nothing to take what they believe Charlie has.  Plus, he has three more places to search.  There’s never a dull moment in The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin and never a lack of humor.  Enjoy!

= Gail Cooke

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