Saturday, December 5, 2009
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Ren has spent all twelve of his years in Saint Anthony's Orphanage. No one seems to know how he arrived or who his parents were, or most mysteriously, why he is missing his left hand. This defect means that when the boys are lined up for inspection by those who come to adopt, Ren is never chosen. Then one day a young man comes. When he sees Ren, he falls to the ground in tears, exclaiming that this is his long-lost brother and of course, he must come with him immediately. The Fathers of the orphanage agree, and Ren leaves with his new family, Benjamin Nab.
Within an hour, Benjamin lets Ren know that he isn't his brother. He expects to find Ren and his disability useful in his profession; that of grifter and scam artist. Benjamin has a partner, Tom, an alchoholic ex-schoolteacher. Benjamin and Tom live life on the move, scamming the townsfolk in one place, then moving on. There is little they won't do. One of their more lucrative sidelines is graverobbing. Sometimes they rob the corpses of jewelry but sometimes they steal the bodies and sell them to a local doctor.
One night, they get a huge surprise when a body they have dug up turns out not to be dead after all. This is how Dolley, a huge mountain of a man, a stone cold killer who for some reason loves Ren, comes to join their group. Tom goes back to the orphanage and gets two twin boys who were Ren's friends there. All of the group lives in a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Sands, who also takes a shine to Ren.
But trouble is always lurking when you're a grifter. The local rich man seems very interested in Ren, and seems to have clues about Ren's family background. Can Ren find out who he belongs to and change his life, or will he end up a grifter forever?
Hannah Tinti has created fascinating characters in The Good Thief. The plot is intricate and will keep readers reading to find out the next twist and turn and attempting to solve the mysteries of Ren's background. This book is recommended for fiction readers looking for a great read and memorable characters.