The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris is the second in the series. The first was Amsterdam. The three main characters from the first book are here in Paris – Charlie Howard (he is the narrator so I guess he has to be there), his literary agent Victoria, and his fence Pierre. Victoria’s voice was in the Amsterdam book – being on the end of the phone. She acts in both books as a sounding board for Charlie – and, maybe, a love interest? There is also an interesting new character – who may only appear in this book although I would like to see him come back – called Mr Farmer. Farmer is a fixer for a number of people. He reminded me of the Fat Man from the Maltese Falcon, although based on his description I think he is probably more Robert Morley. (And now I’d really like to watch a Robert Morley film.)
The humour form the first book is here again. It’s a nice accompaniment to the plot and is usually at Charlie’s own expense. The plot is confusing in a good way (a lot happens and we are as lost as Charlie is, almost anyway) – I’m not going to try to explain it because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, and I doubt I could remember all the twists. I was quite pleased not to have gotten the final twist – if I’d stopped to think about it I probably could have worked it out, but I didn’t want to stop I wanted to carry on reading. The book ends with some useful French translations which made me laugh out loud.
I liked the feel of Paris in the story. In this book the Pompidou Centre is a central focus. I could picture it clearly. I have been there twice – once for the excellent Surrealist exhibition, then a year or so later for the not so excellent Dada exhibition. The Dada one had too much material and not enough space – one of André Breton’s notebooks was open in a display and people kept bumping into me as I was trying to read it. We did conceive my eldest daughter, Minty, on that trip so I can’t complain.
If you haven’t read any of these books yet then you should start now. There are three in the shops already. You can advance order the guide to Venice – which is out at the end of April.
Chris Ewan is on Twitter – @ChrisEwan and his blog is listed on the right-hand side of this page under writers.
The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris, Chris Ewan
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (6 Aug 2009)