Book Review: The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
As I live in the Netherlands (although not in its capital Amsterdam), I thought a story taking place Amsterdam would be good fun to read. And… it was. Sort of.

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam: What it is about

Charlie Howard is a writer from the UK who is working on his latest novel in Amsterdam. Not only is he a writer, to supplement his income he is also a thief.

One day, an American man approaches him and asks him to steal two figurines, which are kept in two separate places in Amsterdam. Charlie says no. But as he would be getting 10,000 euros for the job, he decides at the last minute to go for it.

The thefts are not too difficult, but while he is at the second place, another thief comes in to look for the figurine (Charlie manages to hide away). Later, he finds out that the American man is murdered.

He tries to find out what is going on: why did the American want these worthless figurines and why was he murdered?

In the end, in true Agatha Christie style, Charlie gets everyone that is linked to the case together in a room and starts analysing the events and eventually announcing the story behind the figurines as well as the implicated people in the case.

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam: What I thought

I really liked the cover and I always claim to know by the cover whether I’ll like the book or not.

In this case, I think the cover made this book look too literary. Is it just me? In effect, it wasn’t very literary at all. Not that that is a prerequisite for me liking a book, but I could be as bold as to suggest it’s not far off the other end of the spectrum.

No, the writing wasn’t bad, but the way the story was told (not much was left to the imagination) reminded me of detective novels that my uncle read in the 1970s. They would be large size, floppy, and made of paper only slightly thicker than newspaper. Do you know the kind? It was more or less the Harlequin of the mystery writing.

I feel awful writing the above, but the book had that feel to me.

Although there were some interesting plot twists to the story, I didn’t like the convoluted story that Charlie presented at the end, in a room full of people that were linked to the case in some way. There was no way I could have worked it out by myself. In fact, although Charlie was the protagonist the reader is following through the whole book, I wasn’t given all the information that Charlie had, and I didn’t like that.

For me, this was a disappointment, but still an entertaining read. It didn’t live up to my expectations but would make a good light read on holiday or if you’re sick at home for a day and don’t want anything too taxing.

Rating: 3/5

I got this book: from the library

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 238

First published: 2007

Genre: mystery

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

9 Responses to Book Review: The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan

  1. parrish says:

    Every now & then I go through a detective/ thriller phase, I think of it like a head cleanser. During this phase I read a lot of genre books of a formulaic but entertaining in a mindless don’t need to think about it kind of way, during such a period I read this, it was funny enjoyable, sort of modern take on Raffles the gentleman burglar kind of book. But,that was all it was. There is another series of books by a different writer (whose name I’ve forgotten) that’s fairly similar, with titles such as The Burglar who liked Mondrian etc.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Parrish, it was fun to read, but I think one was enough. As you say, enjoyable, but that’s about it. Still, it was fun to read a book that takes place in Amsterdam, as I don’t live far away.

  2. Rikki says:

    So basically this is pulp fiction? I wouldn’t have thought that from the cover, you are right. Still it sounds like a fun read…

  3. cbjames says:

    That “font” they used for the title is a very trendly one for literary fiction these days. Otherwise, I don’t think the cover looks ‘literary.’ Still, I know what it’s like to get taken in by a good cover. I often buy books based on the cover design. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I don’t.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Indeed, cbjames, I expected something a bit more literary because of the font. I also buy books based on the cover, it’s most important for me, and usually I get it right.

  4. Hm. I have thought about trying this one, partly because I met Chris Ewan in Bristol (really nice & unassuming guy). And contrary to you, I know beforehand that it is just an entertaining story so because of that, I may be more favourable to it. Expectations are also very important to me, just like what mood I am in etc.

  5. sakura says:

    This has been on my wishlist forever. I think I’d still like to read it as I have a weakness for crime fiction. The next one in the series is set in Paris, I think, but I like to read books in their proper order.

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