Chris Ewan has just released new editions of his Good Thief guides. Five titles take his thriller writer and house breaker protagonist, Charlie Howard, around the cities of Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin. I’m a big fan of Ewan’s writing but hadn’t read any of this particular series. I downloaded the book set in the place I know the best, Paris, and set about discovering the city through the eyes of a man who sees buildings primarily as challenges to his lock-picking skills.
The opening of The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris sets the tone for the rest of the book which successfully mixes light hearted humour with tense, dramatic moments. Howard gives a reading at the famous Paris Lights bookstore but confuses the audience as he doesn’t look like the fake image that he uses on the cover of his books. He’s asked to break into a man’s apartment to demonstrate his lock picking skills but discovers the flat belongs to someone else. When he’s later asked to steal a picture from the same apartment, he’s intrigued by the fact the painting has already disappeared but a dead body in his own home and attempts by his agent to force a meeting send him on the run.
The character of Charlie Howard successfully drives the narrative of this enjoyable thriller and I found myself warming to him from the beginning. I’m fascinated by buildings and I’ve often wonder how easy apartments are to break into. Relatively easy it seems from this book. Regular readers of Crimepieces will know I love classic crime and Raffles is one of my favourite series. There’s some of Raffles in Charlie Howard which makes him a likeable rogue but his adventures were augmented by a strong and twisty plot.
With their lovely new covers, and holiday season still with us, these books are a perfect accompaniment to your travels.