It's Book Review Wednesday, and boy do I have a treat for you! Today's book is a brilliant look into the life of a pickpocket in the modern world…
Nomadic pickpocket Wolfgang gets blackmailed into teaching his craft to the mysterious Lilith, a young woman with no aptitude whatsoever to become a pickpocket. Wolf figures the easiest way is to go with the flow and instruct Lilith in the art of emptying other people's pockets, but even he could never foresee the dreadful consequences...
My Review: 5 Stars
Yes, that's right, I'm giving this a 5-star review!
First of all, I loved the fact that it's about a pickpocket. I'll read anything with a criminal as the protagonist, so that hooked me right off the bat.
The author gets into a lot of details about Amsterdam (the city that serves as the setting for the story), and it helps to fix an image of the world around you into your mind. He gives plenty of details to help you understand what life in Amsterdam for his character is like, but without giving info dumps or going into too many random details.
The characters were all surprisingly well-written for such a short story! They were layered, developed, complex, and intriguing, even the ones that only appeared in a few scenes.
The plot itself was quite brilliant, I must admit. Despite the character's cynicism and wariness, he ends up being played incredibly cleverly by the Lilith character. It's a beautiful example of just how easily men can be manipulated by women.
Throughout the book, the author uses flash-forward scenes to describe the end of the book, letting you know over and over that the character got "played". And yet, you have no idea how he gets played right up until the moment that it happens. There is nothing to give away the ending, which I found incredibly clever and well-written. All in all, it's worth the 5 stars, and it's a book I will gladly recommend to anyone!
Here's a Taste:
Around nine-thirty, I entered Small Talk, a luncheonette at the corner of Van
Baerlestraat and Willemsparkweg, ordered an espresso and went upstairs to the first floor.
Lilith followed me inside and added a cappuccino to my order. She sat down across
from me, took a brush from her shoulder bag and brushed back her damp hair. After dabbing
her face with a tissue, she unbuttoned her jeans jacket. Her nipples jabbed the damp fabric of
her T-shirt. She shivered and gave me a reproachful look which I ignored. It wasn't my
problem if she didn't know how to dress for this fickle weather.
"So how many did you take?"
I sipped my espresso. "You didn't count them?"
"You're guessing," I said. "I told you to observe indirectly, not to let your attention
Lilith leaned forward, her damp breast touching my jacket. "Could we drop the
I looked into her pleading eyes. "You think I'm being hostile? You blackmail me into
instructing you while you have absolutely no aptitude whatsoever for my profession. I'm
wasting time I don't have on this farce, so--considering the circumstances--I think I'm
"Listen, I'm sorry if I came on like a bitch, but I wouldn't do this if I wasn't desperate.
Have you never been desperate?"
"Lucky you." Lilith slouched in her chair, her gaze on the tabletop. "I never had any
"Spare me your life story. Save it for someone who actually gives a shit."
I could see she wanted to punch me, but her desire to stay in my good graces
apparently got the better of her. She rested her chin in her hands and studied me. "How about
"My life story?" I snorted. "Nothing to tell."
"Nothing?" She looked up, tilted her head. "I find that hard to believe."
"Why don't you tell me how you become a pickpocket?"
"How?" I smirked. "I became a pickpocket by sticking my hand in other people's
"You don't want to tell me?"
I finished my espresso. "See? You can be perceptive, with a little effort."
"Are you going to be like this all day?"
"What did you expect? That I'd 'revel' in teaching you my 'craft'?"
"I'm sorry if I'm a nuisance."
"You're not sorry. Don't pretend to be something you're not. I'm not an idiot."
"I mean it."
"No, you don't. If you were truly sorry, you'd get up and get out of my life."
"I can't. I need this. I need you."
I shook my head. "I was just the sucker who made a mistake in your vicinity. Now I
have to pay for it."
I got up and she followed me to the counter, where she paid for both our coffees. I
didn't thank her, but led the way to the nearest tram stop. The rain turned into a steady drizzle
and I noticed she was still shivering in her thin jacket.
She rubbed her arms. "Where will we go now?"
"Albert Cuyp. You bruise easily?"
She narrowed her eyes. "Why do you ask?"
"Just answer the question."
"If I'm knocked about I'll bruise, but I don't plan on getting caught."
I shot her a scornful look. "Never heard of 'collision theft'?"
"You want me to bump into someone and pick his pocket?"
"You bump into the mark. Extracting wallets is my department."
"Oh. Okay, no problem."
I scowled. "We'll see."
About the Author:
Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam, with his wife Maaike, two children, two cats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention. Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work. Martyn is a stickler for verisimilitude in fiction, even if that requires learning new skills, and luckily he has more aptitude than Lilith.
While Wolf's story is fictional, many locations in In Pocket are real. When Martyn wrote the first draft of this story, his third story apartment in the Kraijenhoffstraat looked out over the wasteland on the Cruquiuskade where Wolf parks his van, but this site is now an environmentally friendly upscale neighbourhood and park.
Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011LW05BO
Read Martyn's thoughts on his website: https://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/