I want to watch as a character works to create a plan to overcome some crazy obstacle despite ever growing odds. The thing that makes a caper even more entertaining is when it involves a team. The interplay between characters as the stress builds is riveting. The team creates a way to compartmentalize the plan that is more readily accessible.
Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora uses the team structure to create a caper which is both fun to watch unfold as well as highly engrossing to learn how the players came to play their parts.
Locke Lamora is the garrista, leader, of the Gentleman Bastards. They are a group of thieves in city of Camorr. Locke is the Mastermind of the gang. Jean Tanin is the groups bruiser and the most well educated. The twins Carlo and Galdo Sanza are jack-of-all trades capable of fulfilling many roles. The gang is rounded out by the apprentice, Bug. The shadow that hangs over the group and brought them together was Father Chains whom was a priest of the Crooked Warden, god of thieves.
The lies of Locke Lamora is much like a magician performing a trick. The Gentleman Bastards are working a game on a Don. The reader gets to watch as the shells begin their dance on the board. Lynch shows the tricks as it place as well as taking the reader behind the curtain to see the secret. Lynch does this through steps into the past. Lynch’s jaunt’s into the past provide a spotlight on a particular piece of the world that the Gentleman Bastards reside in or illustrate the history one or two of the member’s of the gang. These vignettes provide both interesting history of the world or characters as well as pieces to the puzzle that is unfolding in the present timeline of the story.
These drops into the past are much the same as a magician’s patter. They are designed to misdirect you attention as the layers build up on the progressing story. That aside about wraith stone was an interesting bit of world building but has little bearing on the greater story, or does it? Each step back is both a distraction to keep reader entertained while providing another piece of the puzzle that will end with a spectacular Finale.
By far my favorite character is Father Chains. He is a Fagin that is actually concerned with the well being of his charges. He not only teaches them skills of thievery but those of numbers, letters, and history. his lessons can be harsh but never without a purpose. Each visit to his school room shows how his lessons have influenced the game that Locke and his men now play.
I give this book four bear paws out of four. Scott Lynch creates a world and characters that are both rich and captivating. It mixes that levity of Leverage with the grittiness of The Wire without ever letting that darkness overwhelm story. There are turns in the story that I had to stop because I was so angry at what happened but I picked it back up again because I had to know how it ended which is the hallmark of a great caper in my own estimation.
If you haven’t read The Lies of Locke Lamorra, I highly recommend picking it up. I am looking forward to finishing the next book in the series soon!