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The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Series: Good Thief's Guides, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,153 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Howard travels the globe writing suspense novels for a living. To supplement his income - and keep his hand in - Charlie has a small side business: stealing for a very discreet clientele on commission. When a mysterious American offers Charlie 20,000 euros to steal two small monkey figurines to match the one he already has, Charlie is suspicious; the job seems too good to be true, and of course, it is. He soon finds the American beaten nearly to death, while the third figurine has disappeared. Back in London, his literary agent, Victoria (who is naive enough to believe he actually looks like his jacket photo), tries to talk him through the plot problems in both his latest manuscript and in his real life - but Charlie soon finds himself caught up in a caper reminiscent of a Cary Grant movie, involving safe-deposit boxes, menacing characters, and a beautiful damsel in distress.

©2007 Chris Ewan (P)2011 AudioGo

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • adrienne
  • EAGLE RIVER, AK, United States
  • 10-02-13

A delightful surprise!

This is another "try something different" for me. The publisher's summary and the always superb narrator Simon Vance make it sound intriguing.

This story has none of the intense psychological aura nor the graphic ongoing violence that many of the mystery thrillers have. Yes, I do listen to them, but it takes a few days to come back to my reality to move on. When this was over, I was delighted with the outcome which has a Sherlock Holmes feel to it. The characters are varied and each has an ulterior motive or two for their behavior. Our "Good Thief" must sort it all out, earn his freedom, and move on to Paris.

I plan to move on to the next installment in the series.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

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I love Chris Ewan!

After reading (and loving) his most recent novel, Safe House, I worked backwards and bought this book, the first of his "The Good Thief's Guide to...." and that's when I discovered that I also love Charlie Howard, Ewan's dashing, but hardly angelic, main character.

Charlie's a writer of crime mysteries, and it's no wonder because Charlie himself enjoys a little larceny in between writing projects. Although his moral compass is a tad off-kilter, he's basically a very likable fellow with a sharp wit and a non-violent streak. It's not about the haul really, but about the thrill and excitement. OK, so it's about the loot too, but that thrill and excitement stuff is important.

Charlie's currently in Amsterdam penning his latest book, but he's having trouble with it. So, while seeking inspiration, he takes a break to indulge in his favorite pasttime, but things go terribly awry, and as usual, Charlie gets involved in a spiderweb of tangled intrigue.

As I write this review, I'm finishing the final book in the Good Thief series, and I'm delighted to say that each book has been pure fun! I'm so thankful that I discovered Chris Ewan. It's been a wonderful journey.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Good Romp

You can never go wrong with Simon Vance as a narrator and his reading adds a dash to an enjoyable but not memorable story. Charlie Howard is a bit of a throw back to the 60s, as are most of the other characters. A bit of Robert Wagner in It Takes a Thief. The story could easily be set 40 years ago instead of now except transactions are done in Euros. I don't know that I will follow Charlie on his larceny tour of world cities, I didn't feel much like I was in Amsterdam and I prefer tales that bring the setting alive and pull it into the story.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonelle
  • Camp Hill, PA, United States
  • 11-01-11

Great Narration, Story a Little Predictable

Simon Vance's narration was great...but the story didn't offer up enough of Amsterdam, and the mystery itself was a little predictable.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 09-05-14

Retro Feel . . . Entertaining Whodunit

This audio book was a "detour" for me, and a fun one. I usually stick to historical fiction or heavier crime dramas, but sometimes I like to lighten it up. And this one is just the book for a fun listen that will keep you guessing, a likable writer and thief goes to Amsterdam and solves a murder.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I listen to books during my commute to work and when I'm working around the house. I pick books that are entertaining, not ones that require a lot of concentration, and brain power. This book entertained me, and I looked forward to listening to it.

Would you be willing to try another book from Chris Ewan? Why or why not?

Yes.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Excellent depiction of the varied accents required in this book.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, we recently were on vacation in Amsterdam.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 07-01-14

Middling Metafictional Mystery

Let me make sure this is clear before I get into details: This book was entertaining and I'm happy to have listened to it. And I could definitely go for another entry in Chris Ewan's Good Thief's Guide series, especially since they're set in cities that I love. But let me make this clear too: I would try one more, and if it's as full of holes as this one, that would be the last.

Ewan is a mystery writer writing about a mystery writer who is also a master thief. His protagonist, Charlie Howard, grapples with the details of the mystery book he is writing even as he acts out his part as master thief in Ewan's mystery book. Given this metafictional structure, I think it's fair game to have problems with the holes in Ewan's plot that mirror those in Howard's book within the book.

Howard's prize possession is a framed first edition of The Maltese Falcon, which is mentioned on page 44, pretty early on. By then, we know that he has been hired to steal a pair of monkey figurines that everyone keeps telling him are worthless. If I as a reader can instantly connect The Maltese Falcon to the worthless monkey figurines, why does it take Howard, a brilliant writer and master thief who so specially prizes The Maltese Falcon, so long? Not good. There are other foreshadows of a similar nature that are instantly evident, but no spoilers -- the figurine is not a spoiler because it's just so obvious and brought in so early on.

Still trying to avoid spoilers, I will again refer to the book within the book. Howard's editor points out a huge hole in his plot that he tries to figure out even while he is trying to figure out what is actually happening to him in the plot in Ewan's book that Howard lives in. After Howard fingers who done it and how and why, his editor points out the hole in his real life plot. He spends the last pages of the book explaining it away, to no one's satisfaction (by which I mean his own satisfaction, his editor's, or mine).

In Ewan's metafiction, the hole in his plot is left as unresolved as the hole in his character's plot. His editor even tells him, by way of consolation, that readers won't remember how the briefcase got into the policeman's hands by the time the ending rolls around. Not willing to take that chance, Ewan confronts his big hole and merely wishes it away, unsuccessfully. In addition, the big ending in which Howard explains what happened and fingers the perp employs the classic (even trite) technique of bringing everyone into the room as he tells them all what he figured out. Obviously done on purpose, but equally obvious is that the scene is contrived, gratuitous, and beyond all credulity.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Solid if Predictable

A bit too easy to guess before the end. But solid enough writing and good story telling. Got me through a day of gardening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great narration enhances the slight plot

Simon Vance is an excellent reader, and he elevates this rather light story into a quick, entertaining listen. I'd rate it as one for fans of "cozy" mysteries. For those who like plot complexity and character development, they're not in this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great deal of fun - fulfills its promise

After reading Safe House, which I highly recommend, I decided to check into whatever else Chris Ewan had written. This Good Thief series looked a bit too cute, and the reviews just a bit too glowing, but I'm very glad that those things didn't stop me. To some extent this was a "cozy" but not in the bad sense of the word - no gratuitous violence or blaring sex (Safe House is a bit more raw); a plot that moves along and keeps to the point, twists and all; characters which, although without depth, are clearly delineated; and a bonus - the hero's problems with his "day job" book. Definitely worth it when on sale; maybe a bit steep at a credit price, but I'm finding myself sorely tested to move on through the series. If you like Westlake's early Dortmunder books, or the BBC's Charles Paris programs, I suggest you go ahead and give this a try. Or if you liked this, try them.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful