Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by the publishers (Corsair) is exchange for an honest review
Synopsis (from Amazon)
Nishimura is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves through the crowded Tokyo streets, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes even he doesn’t remember the snatch. To him, people are just 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 his old partner-in-crime reappears and offers him a job he can’t refuse. It should have been easy: break into an apartment, tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of his safe, no-one gets hurt. But the day after the job, Nishimura learns that the old man was a prominent politician – and that he has been brutally murdered. Suddenly, Nishimura finds himself caught in a tangle so tight that even he might not be able to escape.
I had a number of reasons for accepting this book. I love Haruki Murakami and was interested to see some more Japanese fiction, as The Thief has won awards I thought it may well have potential. The synopsis too interested me, it made me expect a bit of a political thriller- and maybe a little bit of a supernatural twist based on him not remembering some of his snatches. I must admit a part of me did just want it for the cover. It really drew my attention, and I love the was the f had ‘stolen’ the dot from the i- but hey you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right?
Well was it what I expected? There was a certain similarity in tone between this and Murakami’s work- partially because they were both in first person but also there was a similarity in voice. It probably most reminded me of Norweigen Wood in this sense- Nishimura’s voice throughout reminded me a lot of Toru’s voice at the begginning of Norweigen Wood as he is looking back.
In fact Nishimura does seem to live in the past quite a lot. He is often reflecting back, sometimes in a way which doesn’t make much sense to the reader, however that does give him a very genuine voice.
There wasn’t the surrealist element which I had hoped for- but I hadn’t really expected it- and although it may have been interesting to explore it could have also just complicated the story.
It wasn’t political in anyway that I had expected either. Actually the fact that Nishimura had been involved in the death of a politician caused him trouble but wasn’t really explored. I would have liked to know what was behind that activity.
Having said that we saw much more of Nishimura’s character outside of his life as a thief than I had really expected, and I liked that. I couldn’t imagine that I would care for him much as a character. However I felt that I really got into his head and got to know him. It meant I really did care about what happened to him.
I see quite a few reviews on amazon and goodreads criticize the ending for being too open. I liked the openness however, I like to have a choice of what might happen next- and I do think that there are enough clues given that mean you can make an educated guess.
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