Reviewed: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (2006)

The lies of Locke Lamora book reviewLocke Lamora is leader to the Gentleman Bastards, a kindred band of thieves in the canal city of Camorr. The Bastards are no petty thieves though, robbing from the affluent and influential using only their minds, disguises, and lies . . .lots and lots of lies. In the middle of their biggest confidence game yet, a proverbial hatchet is thrown at the Bastards in the form of the Gray King, a phantom figure who is killing off the gang leaders of Camorr with the intent of overthrowing Capa Barsavi, godfather of Camorr’s underbelly. As Locke and the Bastards juggle their con job and the Gray King’s offense on their fellow thieves, they must also be wary of another mystery figure closing in on their game. The Spider of Camorr has caught the scent of Locke Lamora, and is determined to bring an end to the secret schemes of the Gentleman Bastards and the Thorn or Camorr.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is fun, fast paced, and fresh. Lynch’s dialogue is witty, his pacing is snappy without feeling rushed, the exposition is minimal and appropriately spaced, and the protagonists are loveable, enchanting, and will have you rooting for them. The story feels like The Godfather set in the steampunk world of Victorian era Venice. The plot is part con-job, part murder mystery, and part bringing-the-team-together (and falling in love with them). I’m happy to say that this is an adult book; the profanity is excessive, but never inappropriate or used as a crutch for storytelling. It’s natural to the world that the characters live in.

My only critique is that at times the story doesn’t know what it is and how it’s supposed to unfold, or how the characters are supposed to act. As mentioned, parts of the story feel like a whodunit mystery, but nobody is really trying to solve the mystery. Lamora, who is supposed to be naturally cunning and conniving, lets the mystery slide till the very end of the line. The protagonists are more reactive to the conflict that’s affecting them, when their personalities make it feel like they should be more active participants in it.

The story takes place in the canal city of Camorr, but it’s obvious that Locke Lamora’s world is much bigger. It’s likely that Lynch will explore the rest of this world in the other books in the series.

I read this book under a week, which is fast for me. I can’t wait to get my hands on Red Seas Under Red Skies, the next book in the Gentleman Bastard series. If you like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven, and good banter, I’d recommend picking up The Lies of Locke Lamora.

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