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The Thief | [Fuminori Nakamura, Satoko Izumo (translator)]

The Thief

The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly that sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him; nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections.... But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life and offers him a job he can't refuse.
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Publisher's Summary

The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly that sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him; nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections....

But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life and offers him a job he can't refuse. It's an easy job: tie up an old rich man and steal the contents of a safe. No one gets hurt.

Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.

©2009 Fuminori Nakamura; ©2012 Satoko Izumo (P)2012 BBC AmericaTranslation

What the Critics Say

“I was deeply impressed with The Thief. It is fresh.” (Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Prize–winning author of A Personal Matter)

“Compulsively readable for its portrait of a dark, crumbling, graffiti-scarred Tokyo—and the desire to understand the mysterious thief.” (Booklist)

“Disguised as fast-paced, shock-fueled crime fiction, Thief resonates even more as a treatise on contemporary disconnect and paralyzing isolation.... Mystery/crime aficionados with exacting literary standards, as well as readers familiar with already-established-in-translation Japanese writers Miyuki Miyabe (Shadow Family), Natsuo Kirino (Out, Grotesque), and Keigo Higashino (Naoko, The Devotion of Suspect X), will especially enjoy discovering Nakamura.” (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (103 )
5 star
 (20)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (34)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
3.5 (93 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (25)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Story
3.7 (93 )
5 star
 (24)
4 star
 (30)
3 star
 (27)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Ki Seattle, WA 03-30-12
    Ki Seattle, WA 03-30-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    235
    ratings
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    249
    46
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    20
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    Story
    "Well, it is short."

    The good news is that this book is short, so if it doesn't float your boat, you haven't lost much time. I'm not sure that there is anything wrong with the book per se other than the fact I just don't care for the characters or the themes. I'm sure there are people out there who will respond positively to this book...I'm just not one of them!

    It does pick up quite a bit in the second half and I was on the verge of liking the book, but I found the ending unsatisfying.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty 03-28-12
    Betty 03-28-12 Listener Since 2007

    Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    149
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    25
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    Story
    "Memories of Keruoac-- not cops and robbers!"

    As I read (listened) to this book, my mind was drawn back to many years ago to the themes found in the writings of Jack Kerouac, which swept college campuses across the country. Nakamura approaches the timeless questions of value choices we must confront when searching to find meaning and direction in lives created day by day.

    He poses the timeless questions of good and evil, of love, hate or total indifference. Is it moral to live solely for myself and by myself? Was the Master Thief an evil man? He did take what was not his, but belonged to another. What if the owner was evil and harmed innocents? Is it immoral to steal from an immoral man? And, if the thief uses his stolen fortunes to save and shelter an endangered innocent, is his own life evil?

    I am not familiar with the author. This is the first of his books I have read. It is encouraging to find that we have fresh writers to carry on the quests of earlier generations. If you are looking for just another cops and robbers read, this is not for you.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Weissman 03-27-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "I would say it's not a bad book, just not good"
    Would you try another book from Fuminori Nakamura and Satoko Izumo (translator) and/or Charlie Thurston?

    Not sure, would need to be in the mood. I think something got missed in the translation.


    Would you recommend The Thief to your friends? Why or why not?

    No


    What three words best describe Charlie Thurston’s voice?

    common, indistinct and plain


    Could you see The Thief being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Could be a better moving than book / audiobook


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David WILTON, CT, United States 04-16-12
    David WILTON, CT, United States 04-16-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    12
    7
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    Story
    "Eh . . . Too Japanese for me?"

    This was not my favorite story. It wasn't bad, but neither was it particularly good. The narrator's voice wasn't particularly great, either.

    Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it spoke to me culturally. It's hard to say.

    I bought this b/c it was on sale from Audible, and sounded interesting.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 09-14-12
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    451
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    833
    149
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    19
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    Story
    "Gritty Japanese Noir"

    Great Story. Easy to follow even though it's translated from Japanese. Gritty, hard edged story. Well told and a good reader for the most part. Story is short put packs a wallop. The main bad guy is really evil and spooky.... and someone that will always keep you thinking about what lies in the shadows of the underworld. If you like dark thrillers then this one is for you. Note it is a bit short but it packs more into a little than much larger novels that are just trying to fill pages.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dumbclub Penland, NC USA 07-14-12
    dumbclub Penland, NC USA 07-14-12 Listener Since 2005

    Reader, Listener, Optimist

    HELPFUL VOTES
    80
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    14
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    Story
    "Lost in Translation"

    Nakamura's plot is actually clever and occasionally suspenseful, but the translation and reading spoil any chance of appreciation for the writing. The translator chose to occasionally insert bits of out-of-place american slang for these japanese characters speaking in their native country. The result sounded preposterous and highlighted the deficiency of the translation.

    Charlie Thurston (the reader) has such a limited range that he attempted to distinguish the voices by simply deepening his voice and slowing the pace of delivery. That might work if there were only two characters, but instead, every male other than the protagonist sounded identical. It reminded me of a child trying naively to imitate the voice of an adult. I am reminded of five-year-old Danny in Kubrick's The Shining, talking to his finger in that scary gravelly murmur.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip fortwashington, MD, United States 05-05-12
    Phillip fortwashington, MD, United States 05-05-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    Story
    "Great short story"

    This is a phenomenal short story. Starts off exciting and never stops. The narrator was perfect for the book and the author did a great job developing the characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Can_I Accra, GT, Ghana 05-02-12
    Can_I Accra, GT, Ghana 05-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "I enjoyed every line"
    If you could sum up The Thief in three words, what would they be?

    This is my first book by this author and I enjoyed it. The narration created vivid images of the characters and scenes in my mind. The story ends inconclusively. I guess there will be a sequel.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JNB New York, NY United States 04-21-12
    JNB New York, NY United States 04-21-12

    Jackson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a winner as an audio book"

    The story has its moments and the reader is OK as a narrator but when he acts out a character he's terrible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    neal Bensenville, IL, United States 04-16-12
    neal Bensenville, IL, United States 04-16-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
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    "Unexpected perspective"
    What made the experience of listening to The Thief the most enjoyable?

    The perspective mixed perfectly with the story. I liked the first person narrative and how he meshed with the little boy. A reluctant master with an eager apprentice.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Not really. But I found this book to be driven well by its characters, not necessarily by its plot.


    Have you listened to any of Charlie Thurston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    First time with Charlie Thurston, I liked him a lot.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I didn't think it would be going in, but the book just sort of flew by.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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