Tuesday, October 12, 2010

book review: The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch

The Thieves of Darkness is the third book in a series about retired thief, Micheal St Pierre.  I must admit that after reading the first two, The Thieves of Heaven, and The Thieves of Faith, that this, newest work from Doetsch, is the weakest of the three.  That is not to say, however, that it is not a thoroughly enjoyable read.  First time readers of the series will, find the novel an action-packed page turner. 
As with other books in the series, The Thieves of Darkness is chock-full of exotic locales.  The story moves from a desert torture prison to the streets of Istanbul, and even to the Himalayas.  Those familiar with the series will already note that the books are filled with religious references and artifacts.  Doetsch always does plenty of research for his novels, and it shows.  His technical jargon is always spot-on, and the fictitious historical relics are brought to life well making the situations very believable.
Where this book comes up a little short of the first two, is in the character development department.  One of the main protagonists in the series is a priest-for-hire, so to speak, named Simon.  Without giving too much away, I will say that he is taken out of the book about a third of the way through.  The story continues on without him, instead replacing his character, basically with Micheal's new gal pal, KC. While this doesn't take away from the story too bad, what doesn't sit well with me is the totally unbelievable way in which Simon is injured.  The reader may find it a little far fetched.  Speaking of far fetched is the antagonist, Iblis.  He is presented as an emotionless robot, who is all at once a scrawny dork and an unstoppable killing machine.  More than once in the book, Iblis narrowly escapes his demise.  However, for a terminator-esque thief-assassin, he is inexplicably scared too death of the other main antagonist, Venue.
Why this killing machine is so afraid of a sixty year old man is anyone's guess.  After reading the book I still am not quite sure.  Although a good portion of the story was entirely devoted to the development of the back story of these two characters, it was not even close to the amount needed for the reader to make an attachment to either one of these guys.  They need their own book.  The problem is that Doestch creates such intrigue with both of the baddies here that he can't seem to fit them neatly into this story.  What the reader is left with is alot of questions. Venue, in particular, was all at once explained and a total mystery. 
In the end what the reader doesn't do is fear him, the way the author would like, as the story unfolds.  And if the reader has no feeling toward the main bad guy, he starts to ask himself..."Why would the other characters?"  That is what I found myself doing by the end of the book.  I asked, "Why is Iblis afraid of this old fart?"  or "Why doesn't Micheal just shoot him in the head as he rambles on and on?"
Well, even though in the end, the book doesn't wrap up all of these questions nice and neat as I would like, it is still a fun ride and a thoroughly enjoyable read.  First time Doestch readers will, no doubt, be enthralled from the first page, and want to come back and read his previous works.

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