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“Doctor Who: You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!

(from Tooth and Claw in Season 2)”
― Russell T. Davies

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

The Good Thief‘s Guide to Vegas is the third book in this series and follows Charlie Howard, part time mid list novelist, part time thief,  as he heads for Las Vegas, USA, following events in Paris. No sooner has he arrived is he pick pocketing a poor sucker at a roulette table for his wallet and checking out a magic show. The wallet happens to belong to the magician, Josh Masters, who takes quite a liking to Charlie’s agent, Victoria. Charlie isn’t one to hold a grudge but decides to use the key card he finds in the wallet to have a look round Master’s suite. Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go wrong, not least of all discovering a dead body in the bath tub…

This novel is great fun, written in the first person with wit and humour, and features everything that has come to be expected of Ewan. The series can be read out of sequence (I really need to read the other books!) as very little of the storytelling really relies on past events in previous books. All the characters are full of surprises and keeps you grip from page to page. The events in the books can be a little confusing if you are unaware of Vegas’s strip layout (even after watching over a hundred episodes of CSI:LV), especially the story takes place (mainly!) in two fictional hotels however that disorientation isn’t enough to break the suspension of disbelief and Ewan does explain the location of them at the end of the novel as an author’s note. The events and actions of the characters keep ramping up the danger the characters are in, especially Victoria reveals that she hasn’t been all that honest when playing the tables.  There are also a lot of surprises and twists and turns, making the solution to everything that has happened an enjoyable and satisfying ending.

This instalment is very much aimed at an adult audience as the themes of gambling, threat of death, betrayal, prostitution and sex are extremely prevalent. This might seem like an odd thing to note considering the novel is set in Las Vegas, the city of sin, but the story itself could easily appeal late teens and young adults who might not necessarily like having these sorts of themes so in their face. Of course, society often brings these issues into the public forum and many people read to escape that reality which makes this novel rather gritty and these themes not necessarily appropriate and/or wanted in a novel such as this.

As a rule, I don’t tend to look at reviews before reading a book or seeing a film but, whilst writing this, I have read reviews on GoodReads and Amazon which indicate that this book a bit like Marmite: either you really enjoy it and take the book as part of an excellent series by Chris Ewan or you hate it because the plot is holey and/or the characters are underdeveloped and/or the writing a little rambling. (I would note that the rambling might be down to the fact that the novel is written in first person and Charlie ends up exhausted which often leads to rambling).

In general though, I do like this book, it’s story and how well Ewan utilises his chosen location. It is definitely an adult book and can be read as a one off or part of the series. For me, I intend to track down the other books and get reading. I might end up doing reviews on those books in the future too.