Thief (Robin Monarch)
by Mark Sullivan
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250052315
Date: 16 December 2014 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Robin Monarch is a man with a past and a present. Currently he is a thief who steals money from bad guys and donates it, after his fee of course, to a hospital and mission in the slums of Argentina. In Thief, the head of the mission, who is also Robin's surrogate mother, is kidnapped and Robin has to accept a dangerous task to rescue her.
Robin Monarch is a complicated man and he is also the main character of Thief by Mark Sullivan. Thief takes place primarily in Argentina where a missionary doctor named Sister Rachel runs an orphanage and a hospital. Robin is the son of an Argentine con artist mother and an American cat burglar father, and is also a graduate of Sister Rachel's mission. His parents were murdered when he was a teenager after a bad business deal and Robin wound up in a street gang of thieves. Sister Rachel helped Robin, and many of his brothers from the gang, turned their lives around and live an (almost) honest life.
Since Robin's father was American, he joined the US Military where he received training in Army Special Forces and later in CIA black operations. Earlier books in the series chronicle some of these operations. Now, Robin is both a good guy and a bad guy that steals from rich people and gives the money to Sister Rachelís charity.
Thief opens as Robin is stealing from a rich industrialist named Beau Arsenault. Beau and Robin crossed paths in an earlier novel, but don't worry the back story is not necessary to understand this novel. (This is the first in the series that I have read and I had no trouble following.) Robin is successful in his theft but gets injured and winds up back in Sister Rachel's hospital. Due to the injury, Arsenault is able to use DNA evidence to determine that Robin is the thief sets out to track him down and kill him.
Robin has a great network, but so does Arsenault and he is able to have his minions kidnap Sister Rachel. They extort Monarch to go under cover and join a scientific expedition into the Amazon to search for a wonder drug that Arsenault wants to put on the market and capitalize. Of course, to make it a story, things go wrong on the expedition. Since Arsenault uses his network to kidnap Robin, Robin is unaware of who is behind the operation.
In a parallel plot to the Amazon adventure is Robin's crew searching for the person behind the extortion. Robin's best friend Claudio is a painter, and he runs the ground operation in Argentina while Monarch is sailing the Amazon and the rest of Monarch's team is following the kidnapping trail. Claudio is another success story for Sister Rachel as she also rescued him from the gang.
Robin Monarch is both a hero and an anti-hero. You can't help but like him as you read the book, and his loyalty to Sister Rachel is absolute, but he does some very mean things. We all know what the US Military and CIA covert operatives do for a living, but they are on our side, so we consider them good guys. Now Robin steals money for orphans, but leaves ghosts along the way.
There are great characters are on both teams. Arsenault is so mean and vicious that he makes Frank Underwood from House of Cards look like a saint. Sister Rachel is about as close to a saint as a human can be.
Thief is a great story overall with great characters and lots of suspense. I enjoyed the vicarious ride up the Amazon. My favorites were the wild monkeys that Monarch and the scientists see there, but I will leave that as a surprise. I am glad that I have found this series through Gumshoe. I really enjoyed Thief and I highly recommend it.