For maybe the first hundred pages of AMONG THIEVES, it struck me as a less-funny version of Scott Lynch’s GENTLEMEN BASTARDS series. I know that sounds like a criticism, but it really isn’t. Almost everything I’ve ever read is less funny than THE GENTLEMEN BASTARDS, and the relationship between Drothe and Degan strongly reminded me of the relationship between Locke Lamora and Jean, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. I was OK with reading a book that was a not-quite-as-good version of a Scott Lynch book while I wait for the fall, when Lynch’s third book is currently scheduled to come out.
But then AMONG THIEVES really got going, and really delves into its noir stylings. By the end, the plot twists come hot and fast, and not the hackneyed, soap-opera style plot twists in which it turns out so-and-so has been a traitor all along or so-and-so is really someone else in disguise. In its later stages, as Drothe tries to figure everything out, he reminded me strongly of another series of books I love, Jim Butcher’s DRESDEN FILES. Like many of the early Dresden books, Drothe keeps running into some serious heavy hitters who can wildly overpower him, and he keeps getting his ass kicked. Also, Drothe’s first-person narration as he tries to figure things out gives him a voice much like Dresden’s, which is one of the most enjoyable parts of THE DRESDEN FILES.
Dresden is a lot more of a good guy than Drothe, who is overseeing a man’s torture when the book begins, but Drothe has his own admirable qualities, and is loyal to a lot of the people we meet throughout the story. It’s early, but this has been the best book I’ve read so far this year, and will likely make my top five for the year.