The evenings are drawing in. I need comfort reading so October 2007 shall be Lizzy’s crime month/binge.  There is a TBR full of criminal doings in the reading room, a particularly murky patch to be cleared up this month.

First up, a book recommended by dovegreyreader.  DGR was part of the judging panel which awarded the 2006 Long Barn Books First Novel Award to this novel.

Chris Ewan’s debut crime title is an interesting mix of the old and the new.  What’s new is that his main character, Charlie Howard, is not only an author of crime fiction but a bona fide burglar in his own right.  Whilst trying to solve a huge plot hole in his novel, Charlie is engaged on a commission he comes to wish he had not accepted. For not long after fulfilling his task, his “employer” is found murdered and Charlie becomes the main suspect.  There is much humour in the conversations between Charlie and his editor as they attempt to solve his plot hole.  In contrast, there is much danger for him in the criminal underworld of Amsterdam as he tries to extracate himself from the hole he’s dug (and, at times, keeps digging) for himself.  The book is populated with a colourful cast all trying to collect a trio of plaster monkeys.  I particularly enjoyed Charlie’s down-to-earth and ironic narrative voice:

In all honesty, I knew the moment we reached my apartment that someone else had been inside.  Call it a burglar’s intuition.  Call it the small things I’d learned during my years of breaking and entering.  Call it the fact my door had been smashed clean off its hinges and was lying flat on my living room floor.

The ending is traditional with Ewan donning a cap to Agatha Christie and Poirot and delivering the twists and turns so expected in a denouement within a closed-room setting.  Except there are a few more twists and turns after the criminal has been caught …..

This is the first of a series intended to take us around the cities of the world.  I like this idea.  I’m also intrigued by Charlie’s physical problem for Ewan has given us a burglar with arthritic hands.  That’s going to throw up a few complications, no doubt.  Bring on Paris, New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Syndey and a few more places besides …….


Further information regarding Chris Ewan and his literary influences on It’s A Crime.