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After a bad streak of luck in Vegas, writer and thief Charlie Howard has retreated to Venice, having vowed to give up a life of crime to write mysteries full-time. But inspiration fails to strike. To make matters worse, Charlie’s prized first edition of The Maltese Falcon flies out the window with a femme-fatale burglar. Blackmailed into returning to crime in order to get his book back, Charlie is catapulted into a plot that is more explosive than even he could have imagined....
After a bad streak of luck in Vegas, writer and thief Charlie Howard has retreated to Venice, having vowed to give up a life of crime to write mysteries full-time. But inspiration fails to strike. To make matters worse, Charlie’s prized first edition of The Maltese Falcon flies out the window with a femme-fatale burglar. Blackmailed into returning to crime in order to get his book back, Charlie is catapulted into a plot that is more explosive than even he could have imagined.
"Big fun." —The Seattle Times
"Ewan's fourth Charlie Howard romp moves briskly, relying once more on the boyish charm of its roguish narrator-hero." —Kirkus Reviews
Bestselling author and former burglar Charlie Howard, relocated to Venice after his most recent misadventure (The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas, 2010, etc.), wakes up in the middle of the night to find a curvy female burglar in mid-burgle. He almost catches her, and it looks as if he's gotten off easy until he notices that his prized possession, a framed first edition ofThe Maltese Falcon, is missing. His agent and annoying voice of reason Victoria, who arrives just in time to scold Charlie, immediately hatches a plan to track down the thief. But this proves unnecessary when Charlie receives an invitation from the woman, whose name is Graziella, to meet. Though she has changed her long blond hair to a short dark bob, Charlie recognizes the hot criminal right away, and their sexual chemistry adds a layer of complexity to their meeting and subsequent involvement. Charlie makes a deal with this Delilah to break into a vault in a majestic but rundown palazzo not far away. Thecaper goes surprisingly well until opening the vault trips a loud and destructive bomb. Fortunately, Charlie is able to stagger back home, bruised and bloody, where he passes out and wakes up naked in bed with Victoria attending him. Far from counseling prudence, she surprises him by urging him back into the heart of danger.
Ewan's fourth Charlie Howard romp moves briskly, relying once more on the boyish charm of its roguish narrator-hero.
Good Thief's Guide to Venice
There was a burglar in my apartment, and for once it wasn't me.
I knew it wasn't me because my intruder was stomping round my living room, bumping into furniture, and I'm a stealthy kind of thief. Added to that, I hadn't picked a lock or cracked a crib or been anywhere unbidden since I'd first set foot in Venice, almost a year ago. What's more - and this really closed the case for me - I was tucked up in bed, scribbling a few notes at just after 2 a.m.
Actually, you can scratch that last bit. I don't want to be accused of being anything but straight with you, so perhaps I should say that I wasn't simply jotting down frivolous ideas. In truth, I was thinking of ways to transform my latest Michael Faulks novel into something that might turn my life around for good - my breakout book. Except now my attention had been snatched away by what appeared to be a break-in.
I hopped out of bed in my boxer shorts and crept to the door of my room. Peering along the darkened hallway, I could see the glow of torchlight.
Now, as a general rule - and perhaps this is just me being terribly old-fashioned - I've always preferred to burgle places that are empty. In my experience, it makes the whole enterprise a lot more enjoyable and the chances of being caught a good deal less likely. Sadly, my unexpected visitor appeared to disagree. Either that, or he hadn't done his homework, and whichever it was, I wasn't altogether keen to point out his error. Then again, I wasn't altogether keen to stand idly by as he ripped me off.
But what could I do? I didn't own a gun, or anything that could be mistaken for one. There were knives in the kitchen, just off the living room, but I didn't relish the idea of waving a blade around. Sure, it'd be dandy if my intruder went all weak at the knees, held up his palms and sat nice and quiet while the boys in azzurro found their way to my home, but suppose he came at me and got hold of the knife and plunged it somewhere soft and fleshy that I'd rather it didn't go?
The torch swept the living room slowly, as if the person holding the flashlight believed they had all the time in the world. When the beam hit a certain angle, I could almost make out the shape of Mr Curious through the internal glass doors. He didn't strike me as an ogre, but neither was he a waif. He seemed broadly average, except that the average Venetian resident doesn't make a habit of breaking into people's homes -least of all when the front door of the home in question has been fitted with quality locks by an experienced thief.
I smiled in the darkness. Thinking of my door had given me an idea. No, I wasn't about to run outside and rouse a vigilante mob - I'd simply remembered the coat hooks in my hallway. And I'd also remembered the umbrella hanging from one of them.
The umbrella was as long as my leg, with a black fabric canopy and a sturdy wooden handle. If I could get to it, I could swing it like a club, or jab it like a sword. Hell, if push came to shove, I could ram the thing in the bugger's mouth and open it inside his oesophagus.
I edged into the hallway and skulked through the dark on my toes, but I needn't have worried. My visitor was making so much noise striding around the living room that I could have bumbled into a drum kit without being heard. Funny, I'd always favoured baseball trainers when I was on the prowl, but this clown appeared to be wearing tap shoes.
I lifted the umbrella down from its hook. It felt heavy enough to do some serious damage, assuming I was really prepared to use it. I didn't know about that. Speaking as a thief, it was all too easy to put myself in his (very noisy) shoes, and I was reluctant to barge in and land a series of blows without waiting to gauge his reaction.
I rolled my shoulders and circled my neck, trying to loosen the tension from my muscles. Nope, didn't work. Wiping my brow with my forearm, I glanced down at my bare feet. I wasnaked aside from my boxer shorts and the umbrella. It didn't make me feel any better.
The light from the torch had settled on the wall at the end of the living room, exactly where my desk was positioned. My laptop was there. It contained the working draft of my novel. The only version.
I lifted my foot in the air and kicked the double doors hard. They spread like a split log and I burst through with the umbrella high above my head. The light from the torch hit me square in the eyes and I squinted and reeled, thumping into the wall and fumbling for the light switch. The room lit up brightly. I spread my feet and prepared to swing hard with the umbrella.
Nobody was coming for me.
My eyes were stinging and watering from the stark electric light. I squinted towards my desk. My laptop was still there. I swivelled left and finally I saw him.
She was blonde. Very blonde. A platinum wonder with a red painted smile on her full, plush lips. The teeth were white and dazzling, the eyes sparkling and alert. Her pose was provocative, taunting even. Shoulders back, chin up, she had one leg through my window and the other in my living room, straddling the sill. Long leather boots with high heels. Blue skinny jeans and a zipped leather jacket. A climbing harness around her waist.
All too slowly, I remembered the situation I was in.
'Who the hell are you?' I asked.
The smile grew wider. The head barely shook.
'What are you doing here?'
The plump lips puckered up and she raised a gloved finger to them. I gaped at her, unsure how to react, and before I was able to resolve the puzzle, her long lashes fluttered, her left eye closed in a wink and she leaned right back in a graceful curve and fell plumb from the window.
Rushing across the room, I braced my hands on the crumbling ledge and thrust my head out into the foggy night air. I caught a flash of her torch, close to the shrouded canal water below. She had one hand gripping the rope she was lowering herself on and the other wedged behind her bottom. She glanced down just once before letting the rope slip free and dropped with a thud onto the flagstone pavement, the noise muffled by the soggy air.
'Hey!' I yelled. 'What the hell? Come back.'
Ignoring me, she freed the rope from her climbing harness, then stepped aboard a white speedboat, kicked off from the moss-clad canal bank with a grunt and reached for the starter cord. The engine fired with a throaty splutter and a blue diesel puff.
I tugged at the rope hanging beside my window. She'd secured it to the roof, which suggested she'd targeted my apartment from above. I gave some thought to lowering myself down to her - the kind of thought that's destined to go precisely nowhere - and meanwhile she cranked the throttle and sped offbeneath a low, arched bridge in the direction of the lagoon, her blonde hair flickering in the misty darkness like a guttering flame. Within seconds she was gone, and all that remained was the slap of disturbed water, the stench of diesel in the dank air and the fading note of her engine rebounding from the walls of the crooked buildings that surrounded me.
I dragged my head back inside and shook it groggily, then turned to find my friend and literary agent, Victoria, emerging from her guest bedroom to do much the same thing. She stumbled towards me in spotted pyjamas and fluffy slippers, her hair like an Eighties revival night gone wrong and a slick of drool glistening on her chin.
'Charlie?' She yawned without covering her mouth. 'What's all the fuss?'
'Break-in,' I mumbled, cupping my hand to the back of my neck.
'My God. Anything gone?'
I looked again at my laptop, untouched on my desk. My notebooks and papers were there too.
'Nothing,' I told her.
But then my eyes drifted up to an empty space on the wall and my heart clenched with the sudden realisation of what I'd overlooked. Something was very much missing, and something else had been put in its place.
THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO VENICE. Copyright © 2011 by Chris Ewan. All rights reserved.
Posted April 30, 2014
THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO VENICE by Chris Ewan--Charlie is a good thief but a bad experience in Vegas has sent him to Venice to write his detective stories. He's promised his agent, Victoria, to stay on the straight and narrow. Then he gets a visit by a beautiful burglar who has taken his first edition MALTESE FALCON. To get his book back, she sends him on a strange mission. Then all the troubles really begin.
The book is just plain fun to read. The writing is excellent, with the best descriptions of people, places and things that I've read in a while. The mystery intrigues with humor galore. This is the first one I've read in this series, though it is the fourth book. Will go back and read them all now. Listened to this in Audible, which added a lot to my enjoyment.
Posted April 22, 2014
I enjoyed the book mainly because I have been to Venice and could relate to the places and the people. The plot was engrossing. Even though the protagonist is a thief, he is charismatic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2011
Enjoyed this more than perhaps any of the others -- light and enjoyable. To me, the humor worked and the even the plot was not overly contrived. Certainly was not forced like the last one, Las Vegas. Highly recommended if you enjoyed any of The Good Thiefs to date.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2011
His bad luck in Vegas (see The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas) has the thief-mystery writer Charlie Howard fleeing to Venice after swearing to his agent, Victoria Newbury, he'll focus on writing the next Michael Faulks burglar thriller. He also has vowed no more thieving.
However, saying and acting on his two resolutions prove difficult. He fears he may have writer's block as he struggles to author his next novel. Additionally as Victoria arrives to encourage him, a female cat-burglar breaks into his home and ironically steals his autographed first edition of The Maltese Falcon that he stole. Graziella, as she calls herself to Charlie, gives him instructions on how to get his inspirational book back. It has been nine months since he stole anything yet Graziella wants Charlie to leave an attaché case in a strongroom of the Palazzo Borelli on the Grand Canal if he wants the return of his literary muse.
The latest Charlie caper (see The Good Thief's Guide to Paris) has the gentleman thief-writer being manipulated by an agile cat burglar whose cleverness matches the hero and in many ways trumps him. With a nod to "To Catch a Thief" fans will enjoy the jocular chess match between the Good Thief and the Venetian Bella Donna.
Posted March 12, 2013
No text was provided for this review.
Posted August 26, 2012
No text was provided for this review.