Something Missing

Something Missing

by Matthew Dicks

Paperback(Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767930888
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 07/14/2009
Edition description: Original
Pages: 306
Sales rank: 312,419
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

MATTHEW DICKS is a writer and elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant, he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat, and he is a Moth StorySLAM champion. He is the author of three other novels, including Unexpectedly Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline JacobsMemoirs of an Imaginary Friend, an international bestsellerHis novels have been translated into more than 25 languages. He lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their two children.

Read an Excerpt

1
Martin opened the refrigerator and saw precisely what he had expected. The Pearls were nothing if not consistent. A gallon of milk, long since expired, cold cuts, opened jars of jam, tomato sauce, a carton of eggs, and, in the door, what Martin had predicted: salad dressing. More salad dressing than anyone would ever need. Newman's ranch, blue cheese, Thousand Island, French, Italian, two brands of balsamic vinaigrette, and Martin's favorite, parmesan peppercorn.

In the nine years that the Pearls had been Martin's clients, he had yet to see a head of lettuce or a fresh tomato in their refrigerator, yet there was always an excellent supply of salad dressing. And unlike most of his clients, the Pearls' salad dressings rarely reached their expiration dates, so someone in this house was using the dressing, but to what the dressing was being applied remained a mystery.

Martin took the bottle of parmesan peppercorn and examined it in his gloved hand. Satisfied with its expiration date, he placed it in the burlap sack and scanned the rest of the refrigerator. The sack, which hung off his left shoulder by a length of rope, was more for appearance's sake than anything else, a means of projecting an image of which he was quite proud. In Martin's estimation, he was at the top of his game, a master of his craft. Though any bag or sack would do, and some might serve him better, he had become attached to his burlap, and so on his shoulder it remained.

Martin then checked the butter drawer and found four and a half sticks. Selecting two and placing them in his sack, he closed the refrigerator door and headed for the pantry, reexamining the list that he had tucked carefully into his coat pocket. The list was written in French, so that in the event he was one day caught, it would be indecipherable by most police officers. Realistically, Martin knew that it wouldn't take long for any self-respecting detective to have the list translated, but the cautious nature of the list enhanced the image that Martin attempted to project.

beurre [butter]
sauce salade [salad dressing]
detergent Æ lessive [laundry detergent]
conserve [canned vegetables]
savon [soap]
diamant [diamond]

Martin found the Pearls' pantry well stocked with vegetables and selected two cans of peas, a can of corn, and two large cans of whole, peeled potatoes. Had the supply of vegetables been low, he would have bypassed this item on his list, adhering strictly to Rule #1:
If the missing item will be noticed, don't acquire it.

Certain items could be taken from a home without anyone ever noticing, particularly if one is familiar enough with the homeowner's inventory to determine how long an item has been in stock. A bottle of Liquid Plumber, for example, should never be taken during its first month on the shelf, because the homeowner has likely purchased it for a specific reason. A kitchen sink is slow to drain. The bathtub is filling with water during a shower. In these instances, a missing bottle of Liquid Plumber, which isn't cheap, might be noticed. But after thirty days, it's safe to assume that the homeowner has solved whatever plumbing problem from which he or she might have been suffering, and then the bottle can easily vanish without a trace. Sure, the client might one day think, "I thought I had bought an extra bottle when it was on sale," or "I didn't think I had used it all up," but as long as Martin followed Rule #2, these thoughts would be quickly dismissed.

Always married, without children, maids, or dogs.

Rule #2 was based upon a theory that Martin had proven long ago, and one that he considered to be the keystone of his success: When items go missing in a house, the suspicion of theft occurs only if the possibility of a thief exists.

The secret behind Martin's success was that the possibility of a thief operating in his clients' homes never entered their minds. And as long as the notion of theft didn't occur to a client, he would never be caught. This was achieved by choosing all clients with great care.

Single people, particularly those living alone, made for poor clients. They were simply too incalculable. When a person lives alone, he or she can monitor household inventory rather closely, and often does. Take Martin, for example. He knew that there were two tubes of Crest whitening toothpaste in the small drawer underneath his medicine cabinet. He knew this with certainty because he was the only one doing the shopping for his household, and he alone used the products that he purchased. If a tube suddenly went missing, there was no one in the household to blame for the disappearance but himself, and therefore, someone outside the home must have taken it. If these disappearances happened often enough, the possibility and probability of a thief would eventually enter Martin's mind. And because he lived alone, the identity of the thief would prove to be quite a mystery. Mysteries promote investigation. Investigations inevitably lead to evidence. Singletons were simply too much of a risk to take on as clients.

The couple must always be married as well. Roommates made the worst potential clients, simply because household expenses are often split between roommates using odd and indiscernible formulas that inevitably lead to strife. Roommates, in Martin's estimation, seem to always be fighting over whose bologna is sitting in the meat drawer, who used whose shampoo, and who made the thirty-nine-minute call to Denver on Wednesday afternoon during peak hours. Roommates, no matter how friendly they may be, always live with a certain level of mistrust for one another, and therefore when something goes missing, it is usually assumed that the roommate took it. The possibility of theft easily and immediately comes to mind with the presence of a roommate, and thus it becomes an option to consider.

No maid or children either, because these two types are frequently blamed for theft, no matter how insignificant the loss. Sticky-fingered maids and dishonest children are so common that they have almost become cliché.

And no dogs, because dogs bark at strangers and bite.
Martin did not like being bit.

One might think that the presence of children and maids and even roommates would be good for a man in Martin's line of work, by deflecting blame from himself and placing it upon more likely suspects, but this is where Martin separated himself from the amateurs. Though it might seem initially beneficial to have a theft blamed on a maid or a roommate, their mere presence establishes the likelihood of a theft. Their existence allows for the possibility of theft to enter the client's mind, and once these maids and roommates are cleared of all charges, the suspicion of theft lingers. An investigation begins. Investigations lead to evidence, and evidence leads to discovery. No, the key to Martin's success lay in the fact that his clients never really noticed that anything was missing, and when they did notice that an item was gone, they simply assumed that they had misplaced the item, lost it, or that the item had been moved or used by their spouse.

Of course, there was the occasional married couple who lived more like roommates than husband and wife, maintaining their own checking accounts, splitting expenses, and living separate financial lives, but Martin's careful screening process also eliminated these couples as potential clients. Besides, Martin found this arrangement to be ridiculous and destabilizing to the marriage, and he preferred to work with clients whose marriages were on a sound footing.

Exiting the pantry, making sure that the door was relatched, Martin passed through the kitchen and into the adjacent living room, stopping for a moment to inventory the items in the room in the event that the Pearls had added or deleted something since his last visit. A sectional sofa, brown leather and well worn, occupied the center of the room, facing a large, flat-?screen television and an enormous fieldstone fireplace topped with a teakwood mantel, none of which showed any evidence of recent use. In fact, Martin noted that the same four logs were stacked upon the hearth exactly as they had been when Martin first entered this house more than nine years ago.

A Steinway in the northeast corner of the room (Martin took great pride in being able to identify the compass points in every one of his clients' homes) displayed a number of photographs of Sophie and Sherman Pearl at various locations around the world. A tropical beach at sunset, Cinderella's castle in Disney World, the front lawn of the Taj Majal, and atop the Great Wall of China were just a few of the couple's destinations. In each picture, Sherman, a thin, middle-?aged man with horn-rimmed glasses and an incongruous shock of curly red hair was always standing to Sophie's left, right hand around her trim waist, their smiles almost always identical. Martin doubted that the couple, who had been married for a dozen years, were aware of the photographic pattern into which they had fallen, but concluded from it that this was a couple who enjoyed the safety and stability of their marriage.

Based upon their frequent travel, Martin assumed that the Pearls had postponed children in favor of long hours at the office and exciting trips around the world. Sherman was a dentist who operated his own practice over the mountain in Avon, and Sophie owned an upscale and highly successful salon in Hartford, starting out years ago in a strip mall adjacent to a Stop & Shop but recently relocating into the center of town, doubling her business almost overnight. She looked the part of a successful salon owner. Her nails were always perfectly manicured, her dark hair was short and stylish with a streak of blond running through her bangs, and she looked about ten years younger than her actual age. Both she and her husband worked long hours, earned plenty of money, and enjoyed spending it on themselves.

The Pearls' lifestyle fit perfectly into Martin's third rule of selecting clients:
Never too rich, never too poor, and never, ever through inheritance.

Clients who inherited their wealth were out of the question. Martin believed that when individuals become wealthy by means of a parent or grandparent's prior labor, they often become overly involved with the distribution of this wealth. Sure, they may give a great deal to charity, but they are also able to account for every nickel that leaves their possession, because either they seek to honor their benefactor by using the money wisely or this is the first time the inheritor has had any money and is therefore more aware of its value.

Neither of these client types appealed to Martin very much.

He believed that taking on poor clients was an equally bad idea, as they tended to be keenly aware of everything they owned, since they owned so little.

Martin also believed that wealthy couples made the worst clients, and this is where amateurs often went wrong. He believed with absolute certainty that the wealthier an individual, the more he or she cared about the things that he or she owned. The wealthy had time to enjoy their belongings, to keep track of each item, and since the wealthy often didn't work for a living, they found gratification and self-esteem through the things they owned rather than the things that they did. These people noticed when something went missing, however mundane the item might have been. This, plus their propensity for security systems, maids, and inconsistent schedules, made the wealthy the worst choice of client.

Upper-middle-class couples, comprised of hardworking and successful individuals, were Martin's bread-and-butter clients. The ideal client was a two-?income couple who earned enough money to own nice things but simply did not have the time to enjoy them. The Pearls were a perfect example. Sherman and Sophie were able to afford a beautiful home with a fieldstone fireplace, but they never had the time to actually use it. They purchased the Steinway about six years ago but had yet to purchase a music book or take a piano lesson. The Pearls were making excellent money, more than a quarter of a million dollars a year between them, but they were simply too busy with work and travel to monitor or enjoy their things, and this made them one of Martin's most reliable couples.
Of course, Martin knew all this and much more because he had screened the Pearls for more than five months prior to signing them on as clients, and he continued to remain as informed as possible about their lives.

Martin did not believe in skimping on research.

Staying as close as possible to the west wall so as to avoid the picture window that faced the street, Martin made his way through the living room to the stairway leading to the second floor. Before ascending, he popped his head into the dining room to his right, doubting that the Pearls had changed this sparsely furnished room in any way (since it appeared that the room went virtually unused), but wanting to be sure nevertheless. An unused dining room was another sign of a couple who had no time to spend enjoying their home. Dinners were often eaten in the kitchen, in a restaurant, or in the car. The dining room, with its black-lacquered, handcrafted Italian table, was as unused as the Pearls' fieldstone fireplace and dusty Steinway.

Satisfied that the dining room was as sterile as ever, Martin climbed the stairs slowly and methodically, authenticating his purchase on each step before ascending.

Years ago, Jim, Martin's only real friend, had been reading from a book of lateral-thinking puzzles over pizza and beer when he offered this puzzle to his friend:

A man calls 911 from a home, saying that he is injured and needs help. The police and ambulance arrive, and he is taken to the hospital, where the man is later arrested. What is the man arrested for?

After more than fifteen minutes of yes-or-no questions, Martin finally solved the puzzle. The man who called 911 had been a burglar who had broken his leg coming down a set of stairs in a house that he was robbing. Trapped in the home, with no hope of escape and in great pain, the burglar was forced to call for help and was later arrested after receiving treatment at the hospital. The author of the lateral-thinking book also noted that this puzzle was based upon a true story.
As the solution to the puzzle had dawned on Martin, his heart quickened and his face flushed. Was his friend of almost thirty years aware of Martin's true career? Was he using this puzzle as a means of broaching the subject, or had this simply been a coincidence?

Martin and Jim had met over a game of Chutes and Ladders a couple weeks into their kindergarten year, when it had become clear to both of them, even at their young age, that no one else was interested in playing with them. Alone in a new world of shiny linoleum, tiny chairs and desks, and inflatable letter people, the two were forced into a friendship that had lasted for almost their entire lives. Though Jim had escaped the isolation of kindergarten and gone on to a more normal life of marriage and children, he had always made room in his life for his friendship with Martin. And for Martin, Jim was one of the only people in the world, perhaps the only person in the world, with whom he was at ease. Therefore, as he solved Jim's puzzle, he worried that he had slipped in some way. It's difficult to bluff someone who has known you longer than you've been able to read. If anyone could uncover his secret, Martin reasoned, it would be Jim.

Reading Group Guide

The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Matthew Dicks’s Something Missing. We hope they will enrich your experience as you go on the prowl with Martin Railsback, Jr., the world’s most endearing burglar.


1. Discuss the novel’s title. What is missing from Martin’s life? What is missing in the lives of his clients?

2. Traditionally, a client is someone who asks for services. Why do you think Martin views his victims as clients? What services does he provide?

3. What do Martin’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies say about his emotional state? Besides the practical reasons, what are the common emotional threads running throughout his various rules (such as acquiring only items that won’t be missed, and never falling into a routine for entering and exiting)? Why is he drawn to a profession that makes him invisible?

4. How did your impressions of Martin shift throughout the novel?

5. In chapter two, Martin meets Alfredo, the Grants’ parrot. What makes Alfredo the ideal new friend for Martin?

6. How did you react to the excess possessions of Martin’s clients? Did you see it as waste or as enviable abundance when the Reeds disposed of their uneaten fresh produce, or when the Grants accumulated a hutch full of unused china, crystal, and silverware?

7. Would you have gone to the trouble of replacing Cindy Clayton’s toothbrush with a clean one? Why does Martin?

8. Chapter five describes Martin’s triumphs on eBay (spurred when he invents “Barbara Teal”) and his obsession with creating a perfect business model. As a scavenger, does Martin in some ways follow the traditional principles of successful corporations?

9. When Martin sends the note to Alan Clayton at the end of chapter six, he very likely saves a marriage. Why was Alan so blind to one of the most intimate aspects of his own life?

10. Why does Martin feel so compelled to help Justine Ashley keep her husband’s party a surprise? What accounts for the level of involvement he feels with so many of his clients?

11. Discuss Martin’s relationship with his mother and stepfather, and his reunion with his father. How did his childhood affect his sense of self-worth? How would you respond if one of your grown children took household items from you without permission?

12. When Martin rescues Sophie and Sherman Pearl, he opens the door to a new life. How did the reality of meeting them (after circumstances that resembled Jim’s lateral-thinking riddle) compare to his fantasy of them? What is it like for him to experience an honest conversation with Sophie? How would you have reacted to his story if you had been in her shoes?

13. How did you feel about the security of your own home after reading Something Missing? Will you think twice the next time something turns up missing?

14. What do you predict for Martin’s future with Laura Green?

15. If you were going to pursue Martin’s profession, which houses in your neighborhood would you want to “investigate”? Whose house are you most curious about?

Customer Reviews

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Something Missing 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Out of the ordinary funny mystery.
butterflybaby on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Fast read. I was not to taken with the main character as other readers seem to be. I did find this tale amusing.
pbadeer on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I picked this out to cover "Connecticut" for my 50 States Reading Challenge - I had never heard of it before, and I found it solely based on its location. But I'm glad I found it.Martin makes his living as a house thief - but not your common, run of the mill burglar. He carefully chooses his "clients" and then methodically steals from them over a period of years. Most of the time, the items he steals are things his clients wouldn't miss (extra salad dressing, several tablets of aspirin he pours out of their containers into his, spare bath towels, etc.), but he really supplements his income by stealing bigger items (old wedding presents left wrapped up in the back of the closet, a single diamond earring (wouldn't you just assume you lost one, if the other was still in your jewelry box?), etc.) which he plots out for theft over a period of months, so that again he is sure his clients won't notice they are missing.The book is an enjoyable read as this very likable criminal outlines how he does his job (very methodical, slightly OCD) and then the tale turns. He realizes that while on the "inside" of his clients' lives, he is in a position to serve as their guardian angels and help them out as well. This kicks up the pace of the book a little and saves it from becoming a one trick pony.
LynnB on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The best part of this book is its premise: Matthew is a thief who steals from an established list of "clients". He only takes things they won't notice are missing, such as a few aspirin from a bottle or an extra bottle of salad dressing nearing its expiry date. He suffers from OCD and is compulsive in his methods, including inventorying everything he takes.I was bored during the first part of the book. Martin doesn't interact with people much, so the book was a lot of description of what he was doing. A telling of who Martin is, rather than a revealing through his intereactions with others and their reactions to him.Things picked up a bit, but the plot was fairly standard. Martin starts interfering in the lives of his clients and helps them with crises small and large. In the end, he mends his ways and finds true love.So, five stars for the idea, but fewer for its execution.
bragan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Martin is a thief who makes a living out of stealing only things that careful research indicates are unlikely to be missed. If you vaguely remember having an extra bottle of syrup in the back of your pantry somewhere but can't find it now, it's possible that Martin made off with it. And while he was at it, he might have taken that crystal bowl you got as a wedding present that's been sitting in a cabinet for years still in its original packaging, too. He's very successful at this unusual career, until, after many years, he finds himself being drawn into the personal lives of his "clients."This is a terrific premise, simultaneously mildly creepy and strangely charming, with the potential for lots of quirky fun. Unfortunately, I think a nifty premise is really all there is to this book, and the writing doesn't really do it justice. We're told all about Martin and his habits and the intricate details of how he works at great length, but I never felt emotionally engaged with Martin or his world. The writing style is very flat, often repetitive, and generally feels more like exposition than storytelling. The plot's kind of thin and simplistic, too. There's really just not a novel's worth of ideas in here, and I can't help but think that I would have enjoyed it much, much more if it were condensed down to something like novella length. Livelier writing and more of a sense of humor would have helped, too.
wheresmyrain on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The premis for the book is one of it's best assests. Martin is a concientious thief. His first rule when conducting buisness is never take anything that will be noticed missing. A half container of detergent here, five asprin there...He has morals and standards and seems to genuinly care about integrity and fair play, thinking of the people he steals from as "clients." Martin is hard to get close to as a character as a reader because his obsessive compulsive behavior is deeply embedded into the text. The pages of detail can make for some difficult reading, though I understand it ads to the believability and authenticity of the narrative from his world view. The glimpses the reader gets into his deeper self are that much more enjoyable when they pop up, like Martin flashing a funny lovable side by talking about his relationship with a pet bird in a clients house. The only critisism I have of this book is that I could of used a little more space for this side of martin.Otherwise the book was very well done, Smart and genuinly endereaing characters. Painfully endulgent to detail perhaps, but also very effective to sweeping you into Martin's world as he walks through it.
jovilla on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The perfect book, well written, and totally enjoyable! Martin is a unique kind of thief---he studies his "clients, visits them on a regular basis, and carefully helps himself to a few select items that would not be missed. He becomes very involved from a distance in their lives until one day he starts to take action to help them. This is so cleverly written, great character developement, and a totally perfect ending. I highly recommend this great book!
msf59 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Yes, Martin Railsback is a thief. He breaks into homes and steals, selecting the same group of residences, repeatedly. The funny thing is, no one notices. Martin only pilfers items, that will not be missed. A roll of toilet paper, a dish towel, a can of soup. He has a touch of OCD, which works perfectly, for this unusual, but productive career. He is as meticulous, as a brain surgeon.The twist in the story, arrives, when Martin inadvertently becomes a sort of ¿guardian angel¿ to his beloved homeowners, helping them out in some difficult circumstances. This leads to some situations, which are humorous, suspenseful and dangerous. If you are looking for something, completely refreshing, with a wonderful lead character, give Martin a try, it¿s a lot of fun.
jadelson6 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Very clever concept. Funny and well-written.
Bcteagirl on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I did really love this book. One characteristic I think many librarythingers have in common is a touch of OCD, liking to keep track of their books, applying categories to them, etc. This book centers around Martin, who is a minor sort of thief, and an OCD one at that. He closely monitors peoples lives, and only steals items that he knows they will not miss. When taken at the right time, no one will notice a can of missing vegetables, a third of a container of laundry detergent, or wedding presents that have never been used (To be put on ebay under a fake name). He carefully takes items from the same couples over an extended period (years). He thinks of the people he steals from as 'clients' and feels this method is full-proof."The secret behind Martin's success was that the possibility of a thief operating in his client's homes never entered their minds. As long as the notion of theft didn't occur to a client, he would never be caught. This was achieved by choosing all of his clients with great care."The detailed method by which he chooses and tracks clients and intake (Excel anyone?) was beyond hilarious to me. It also makes you think about just how much you have around the house that you would not notice if it went missing... and if so, do you really need it?At some point Martin feels compelled to try to help one or two of his clients, and hi-jinks occur from there.A hilarious book, the only quibble I have is with the ending (Won't spoil it). If anyone gets my feed (Books entered, rated etc) they would have been frustrated with me this evening as I kept changing the rating for this book. I would rate the first half of this book a 5/5 and the second half a 4/5. The ending, 3/5. That is the best I can do!
porch_reader on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I got this one because I needed something light and engaging to read while traveling, and I ended up liking it quite a lot. Martin Railsback is an odd guy - the precision with which he plans everything he says and does borders on obsessive. But it is precisely this quality that makes him perfect for his vocation. He's a thief. Not an ordinary, smash-and-grabber. Martin despises them. Rather, Martin carefully screens his clients, visits them regularly, and acquires a carefully planned list of items that won't be missed. But, one day, Martin's careful plans are foiled, and he's put into the position of helping a client. And from there, everything comes unraveled. Several things made this an excellent read. Martin himself is oddly compelling - even likable. The writing style cleverly mirrors the storyline - careful and precise in the beginning, loosening up in the end. And the story itself kept me quickly turning pages. The ending might be a bit improbable, but I was so caught up in the story that I was willing to be carried along to the end.
bookmagic on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Martin Railsback is a burglar. But he is not your ordinary burglar. Martin breaks into homes and takes only what he needs and won't be missed. He chooses his clients, as he calls those whom he burgles, very carefully. They must have money, but not too much as Martin believes the very wealthy keep track of everything they own. They can't have kids, maids, and they must be married couples. Martin has a lot of rules. But this has enabled him to keep the same clients for years, without them ever suspecting that their home has been broken into several times. Martin will take toiletries, food, and the occasional piece of jewelry or other expensive item that won't be missed.Martin is very obsessive-compulsive and plans everything carefully. Until the one day when he accidentally knocks a client's electric toothbrush into the toilet. Now, he could just take it out and put it back. But Martin can't bear to think of her then using that toothbrush. So now he has to go off script and replace it. This sets in motion a series of events that lead Martin to start helping his clients and changes his carefully constructed world.Every so often I will come across a gem of a book. Something Missing is one of those gems. I have read some great literary fiction this year and I'm not saying this is better than those. But it was such a great, charming, engaging, and quirky book. I love, love, loved Martin. He is such a great character and this was such an unusual story that had an unexpected poignancy to it. Of course, now I also think that I have a burglar, that would explain missing pens, socks, and other small items I was sure I had that I can't find.Some might find the details of Martin's carefully planned out procedures a little slow reading but it does pick up. I find the details important in defining Martin's character. It is also helpful if you are planning a burglary! I loved all the inside info into his clients' lives, there is a lot people can tell about us just from looking through our homes, more than you would think.I read this in two sittings and was sorry when it was over but it left me feeling very satisfied. This is one I will reread often. I highly recommend this very entertaining and sweet novel. I also plan on reading the author's next work, Unexpectedly, Milo.my rating 4.5/5
shawnd on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a charming book that perhaps makes too little of the crimes of the main character Martin. Martin is an obsessive and mostly likable mentally ill man who is nervous, shy, and is obsessive compulsive. He is a thief who has decided to be very particular about who he robs, and he attempts to rob them in ways they won't notice so he can continue stealing from them over time.The prose is taut, if workmanlike, but the strength of the main character--and more focus on Martin's 'victims' than his personal friends--make the book very readable. The book redeems it's pure vanilla beginning when Martin starts changing his routine and ends up interacting with some old family (and new family?) he never expected.
austcrimefiction on LibraryThing 8 months ago
SOMETHING MISSING is an entertaining romp through the life of a very unique burglar. The sort of burglar (if you must be burgled), that you would hope was rifling through your personals. Martin Railsback is really, seriously, just about the perfect burglar. His OCD tendencies mean that he's absolutely obsessed with his methodology. In fact, Martin approaches his burglary with a seriousness that's strangely endearing. He has a very limited group of houses that he steals from - a client base, as he refers to them - that have a particular household profile. Once in their homes, he takes small items that are unlikely to be noticed, toilet rolls, half empty bottles of detergent, rarely used pieces tucked away at the back of display cabinets. Mostly though it's general day to day living items, his version of grocery shopping if you like. He works the houses of his clients carefully, setting up the stealing of some items over long periods of time, carefully ensuring that most of the items he takes will go unnoticed by his clients. He limits the "big ticket items" to those that he can carefully scope out, taking months and months to steal first one, then the second in, for example, a rarely worn pair of diamond earrings. Everything this man does is so carefully controlled, considered, cautious and ... well ... tidy, that you really can't help wondering where the author is going with all of this, but there is a very slow build up as Martin carefully takes the reader through his methodology, his life. It's all a bit car-crash fascinating, and made me profoundly pleased that we wouldn't have fit Martin's careful client profiling, as to be honest, the sorts of things he was regularly stealing from his clients, are exactly the sorts of things that could go missing around here with neither of us likely to notice!But something does eventually go wrong for Martin, and his carefully contained, controlled life does hit a very big snag. What is even better is that the snag is self-imposed, something he could have walked away from, leaving nobody any the wiser about his daily activities. Something that is happening in a client's life offends Martin's sense of right and he has to get involved. SOMETHING MISSING was a thoroughly enjoyable book, it's the sort of book that slowly builds, that weaves a story around the reader, that's sometimes laugh out loud funny. But for somebody as controlled, considered and self-involved as Martin, somehow he works as a first person voice for the book. Somehow the OCD that affects his every waking hour, also affects his own voice. It's contained, it's explanatory, rather than self-congratulatory, it's quiet, measured and just a little bit sad to be honest. It's an unexpected viewpoint, and goes towards what was really an interesting, unusual and rather entertaining book. Especially if you'd like a crime fiction outing that's not about death and mayhem and murder.
Anonymous 11 months ago
One of the more interesting books I've read in a long time . I learned more than expected about the quiet, compulsive , and sometimes heroic life of the neighborhood sneak!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book on sale, knowing only that it was the author's first book, and was completely charmed. It is lighthearted, even a little earnest, with occasional astute observations of human nature and snippets of joy. This book is unlike anything I've read, and it is a gem of a story.
momelaine More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story quite a bit. The idea of someone sneaking into people's houses and taking things that they won't miss in order to supplement his own household is rather interesting. Now I have to wonder if Martin was in my house. Where IS that diamond earring I lost years ago? Where IS that cake pan I can't find anywhere? Are you sure we are out of paper towels? Some parts in the book seemed a little slow moving, with all the description, but the last part was pretty exciting and interesting. Some people have described the story as being quirky and I agree. It is unusual. I recommend it. Don't let some slowness keep you from finishing it.
LayneMK More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've read thousands of books over the years, but never one quite like this. The story is unique and entertaining. The main character's personality, quirkiness and habits are revealed as the story progresses. I suspect most readers can't help but be in awe of how the author came up with such an interesting tale.
PatAK More than 1 year ago
I loved this book's original and unusual story...also good character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A delightful story's?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the quirkiness of the main character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book by far in years.
bookwormbethie More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, quite a page-turner. I was surprised at how much I liked it, despite the main character being a "thief."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago