Chris Ewan

The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice

"From the first page Charlie Howard stole my attention and even after finishing the book I still haven’t got it all back."


Meet Charlie Howard, he's a struggling crime writer and a reformed burglar who has gone straight to concentrate on his writing. He has holed himself up in a crumbling Venetian palazzo to work on his next novel without distraction; however he is still itching to go out on a “job”.

To add insult to injury he catches a beautiful cat-burglar making off with his prized possession and leaving a mysterious calling card in its place. Will kicking the habit of a lifetime prove too much for Charlie or will he achieve his aim?

Prowling among Venice's maze of waterways Charlie attempts to re-capture his lost talisman from the cat burglar, find him embroiled in a far greater plot than he could ever have imagined.

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Once again, Chris Ewan picks the readers pockets whilst dazzling them with a sardonic spiel. Just when you think you have things nicely figured out something happens or is said and theories fly out of the window quicker than a burglar who just been interrupted by the family Rottweiler. Let me explain a little, the plot is relatively straightforward and there are the usual few twists to keep you guessing. You just can't guess right about what is going to happen next. I tried, hard; I finally got one which on reflection I think was only put in to make the reader feel better about themselves. This is done without masses of characters or the “killer/doer/ perp” being someone who rode past Charlie in chapter two and was never heard of again for half the book. It was achieved with the laying out of known facts to lead the reader one way until at Ewan's whim the plot pulled them another. Charlie is growing as a character with every passing chapter and his interaction with Victoria is the kind of relationship you see in any married couple, but they have not even kissed yet. Her strong-minded nature and ability to cut through his defences with a word or a glance would in some hands be heavy handed or worse become mawkish unrequited love. Ewan sidesteps the issue and gives voice to Charlie's petty annoyances, paranoia and skewed moral code instead to drag Charlie away from the precipice of cliche-dom. Graziella & Alfred make wonderful additions to the cast as does the Count. The pace is steady throughout oscillating between action, introspection and dialogued plot reveals. The prose is neatly manicured and the entirely first person viewpoint is what elevates this novel and turns it from a petty thief into a criminal mastermind. Charlie's introspections in particular, stand out thanks to the author's stiletto sharp observations and the piercing accuracy of his sardonic wit. From the first page Charlie Howard stole my attention and even after finishing the book I still haven't got it all back.

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