Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: "Among Thieves" by Douglas Hulick

I'll take a break from the books that I should have read last year theme to revisit one I should have read several years ago, Douglas Hulick's "Among Thieves" ($7.99, Roc).

This one has been on my to read list for quite a while, but kept getting shuffled down thanks to a natural reaction I sometimes have to thieves tales. Once I started it, I was immediately sorry that I'd put it off for so long.

Drothe is a member of the Kin, a surprisingly well-organized group of criminals and cons. He serves as a Nose, which means that his job is to hit the streets and find important and interesting information for an Upright Man, the crime lord for whom he works.

When Drothe isn't doing that, he's running his own games on the side. His latest involves an imperial relic that has gone missing in transit. As Drothe attempts to find his missing relic, he stumbles into a much bigger game, one that will most certainly change his life, and possibly the world.

Several things set "Among Thieves" apart from the standard thieves tale. The first is the structure of the underworld organization. I enjoyed exploring the hierarchy of thieves, cutthroats and killers in Ildrecca, and found the unique titles and the way that they interact intriguing. I'm hoping in coming tales to learn much more of the way things work, as it seems to be fairly well thought out.

Another, and one that kept me turning pages, is the mystery element involved in the story. "Among Thieves" reminded me more than a bit of Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora," in that there's something of a caper aspect involved in the tale as Drothe tries to figure out who's doing what to whom, while attempting to stay one step ahead of all of the players.

Drothe himself seems to be a fairly unremarkable criminal. Unlike many heroes in thieves tales, he's not the best at anything he does. He's not a great fighter, not an unstoppable assassin, not even the smartest con on the street. He's pretty much an average Joe, who often proves the old adage that it's better to be lucky than good. All of that, though, makes him even more endearing to me.

As this book was published in 2011, when I finished the last page, I immediately went looking for Hulick's next volume, only to find that it hasn't been published yet. So, I'm afraid that I might have locked myself into another one of those series with long waits between volumes. If Hulick can keep me as entertained as he did with "Among Thieves," though, I'll gladly wait.

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