The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin (Charlie Howard)
by Chris Ewan
Cover Artist: Design: David Baldeosingh Rostein; Photo by Imagine.com
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Minotaur Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250049315
Date: 08 July 2014 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The lead character of The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin is Charlie Howard. Howard is a British mystery novelist, but also a part-time thief. Charlie and his editor, Victoria, are living in Berlin where Charlie is supposed to be finishing his next novel, but he is not doing very well.
Charlie is not a big thief on the Ocean's Eleven scale, but he does small jobs here and there as much for amusement as for the treasurers he finds. Through one of his contacts, the British Embassy in Berlin requests Charlie to do a small job for them. The British Ambassador has lost a personal object and they want Charlie to break into the apartments of four embassy employees and try to find it. The catch is, they cannot tell Charlie what he is looking for. They claim that he will recognize it as something obvious and out of place and Charlie accepts that job.
Charlie is adept at picking locks and as he is investigating the first apartment, he happens to look out the window and see a woman being strangled to death in the apartment across the street. Since he is not supposed to be in the apartment to start with, Charlie is in a predicament. Eventually he calls the Berlin equivalent of 911 and reports the murder. Veronica urges him to leave the issue alone, but Charlie is overcome with guilt and curiosity and breaks into the apartment house across the street the next day. He finds nothing. The apartment is abandoned and empty.
Charlie is puzzled, but moves on with the second apartment. He finds what he thinks is the item, steals it, and is immediately attacked by a pair of Russian thugs and they force him to turn it over. Charlie figures that this must be important. It turns out the item he found is not the correct item and the embassy wants him to continue searching.
A group of American spies and a French spy also track down Charlie to look for the item. The plot continues to circle, and Charlie is still in the dark over what is so important about the mystery item in his search.
It is a great story. When he finally does find the item, it turns out to be a real surprise and very entertaining for the rest of the story. The murder at the beginning disappears from the plot line for a long time, but turns up again at the end. I don't want to spoil the story any more, but it is lots of fun. I think what I enjoyed the most about the story after the plot line is the British humor. Charlie is full of the understated and wry comments of British humor that are very funny. Even when some of the thugs are attacking him he is still cracking jokes and making smart-mouth comments. I already said that the actual item is a treasure, but that is a surprise that I don't want to reveal in the review. I read the book as an audio book by my choice, and the narrator is very funny. Audio books are great for listening to in the car. I thoroughly loved The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin. The novel is a series, and I had no trouble starting with this one. I hope Christopher Ewan writes more, because I can't wait to read them!