Saturday, November 15, 2008

"The Good Thief's Guide to Paris"

Chris Ewan’s debut novel, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, won the Long Barn Books First Novel Competition and was shortlisted for the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award for the best humorous crime novel published in the British Isles in 2007.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Good Thief's Guide to Paris, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris features a telephone conversation between my lead character, Charlie Howard (mystery writer and gentleman burglar), and his literary agent, Victoria. It’s mostly straight dialogue, with some light description. The scene is a gear change, of sorts, where Charlie and Victoria try to figure out just how big a mess Charlie has landed himself in this time.

Prior to this point, Charlie has shown a wannabe burglar how to break into an apartment in the Marais, only to be hired the following day to steal an oil painting from the exact same address. Of course, after breaking in for a second time, Charlie discovers that nothing is as it should be.

The scenes between Charlie and Victoria are important to the Good Thief books for a number of reasons. They let me pose questions about the plot, for one thing, and they also let me fool around with the ‘rules’ of mystery novels. But most important of all is the frisson between Charlie and Victoria – something that cranks up a notch a few pages later when Victoria decides that they should finally meet face-to-face.

I made a humming noise deep in my throat. “I found some personal documents in the apartment in the Marais,” I confessed. “The place belongs to a woman called Catherine Ames. She happens to keep an account at the same bank.”

“Wait – there’s only one branch?”

“No, it’s a multinational – the Banque Centrale. So it could just be happenstance.”

“Or it could be a clue.”

“Or even a red herring. Which would you prefer?”

Victoria took a deep breath. “I’m not altogether sure,” she said. “I like red herrings, if I’m honest, but I have to say they’re not your strongest suit. So I guess I’d plump for it being a clue. But if it does turn out to be coincidence, and your leads don’t pan out either, what are you going to do?”
Learn more about the author and his work at Chris Ewan's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue