International Writers Magazine: Reviews
Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Published by Gollancz
Review by Jack
Lynch may have a problem with Neil Gaiman when the time comes for
one of them to take Terry Pratchetts place as lord of fantasy
stories. His debut novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora takes
place in a fantasy version of Venice called Camorr which has been
built around ancient ruins made of magical glass left behind by
a forgotten alien race called the Eldren
This of course
is totally irrelevant to the story! In which Locke and his trusted
friends who call themselves The Gentlemen Bastards, construct elaborate
confidence tricks in order to relieve Camorrs upper classes
of their money. Its like "The Hustle" but set somewhere
Scott Lynch seems
to share the cynical imagination that Terry Pratchett used to make Discworld
so popular. The characters were likeable and hate-able in all the right
places, and I found myself enchanted by the story within a few pages
because of Lynchs eloquent and witty writing style.
The world may have contract hired Wizards called Bondsmagi and indestructible
glass buildings and alchemically altered fruit. But Lynch isnt
so naïve as to think they wouldnt be used for untraceable
assassinations, ready made real estate and modified alcohol that doesnt
give you a hangover.
The story unfolds in the form of a clever and convoluted crime fiction
when "The Thiefmaker", a Fagin like character who capitalises
on a strange plague that kills anyone over twelve years old by collecting
the resulting orphans in order to train them as thieves, finds a young
boy calling himself Locke who has already stolen at least a years wages
worth from the surrounding police soldiers. Locke turns out to be an
exceptional pickpocket, but a little bit too ambitious for his own good
when he bites off a little more than he can chew. In desperation, the
Thiefmaker sells him to Father Chains, a blind man chained to the temple
of Perelandro. Who turns out to be neither blind nor chained, but a
competent con-man who uses the sympathy to rake in a little money on
the side from his real profession, teaching his own thieves, confidence
tricksters and masters of disguise, the Gentlemen Bastards.
Interspersed with Lockes upbringing, we see him as a grown man
preparing and beginning the biggest scam of his career. Unfortunately
everything goes pear shaped when the local crime lord finds himself
subject to a hostile takeover by someone called the Grey King who appears
to know Lockes secret identity and occupation already
I should probably tell you that the Lies Of Locke Lamora is no
childrens book. If youre used to Pratchett you might still
find it a bit of a culture shock to hear some of the stuff the characters
have to say, and some of the violence made even me squirm at times.
If Voldemort lived here, he would have been raped and murdered by the
local gangs within five minutes, but only after being robbed blind by
Locke of course.
If you like a bit of crime fiction, then this will be a nice, refreshing
diversion from the usual mundane detectives and criminals you read about.
How would you go about outsmarting a Wizard who can read your mind and
control your body if he so much as knows your name? Dont let the
setting and some of the details fool you. This is a crime fiction at
its very core, if you enjoy Christopher Brookmyres writing or
stories like The Talented Mr Ripley this will be right up your
dark, mugger infested alley.
© Jack Carkson Feb 2008
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