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The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam [Kindle Edition]

Chris Ewan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Book Description

Charlie Howard travels the globe writing suspense novels for a living, about an intrepid burglar named Faulks. To supplement his income---and to keep his hand in---Charlie also has a small side business: stealing for a very discreet clientele on commission.

When a mysterious American offers to pay Charlie 20,000 euros if he steals two small monkey figurines to match the one he already has, Charlie is suspicious; he doesn't know how the American found him, and the job seems too good to be true. And, of course, it is. Although the burglary goes off without a hitch, when he goes to deliver the monkeys he finds that the American has been beaten to near-death, and that the third figurine is missing.

Back in London, his long-suffering 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 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, of course, a beautiful damsel in distress.

Publishers Weekly called Chris Ewan's The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam one of the "best books for grownups."

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This impressive debut, a comic whodunit from British entertainment lawyer Ewan, owes much of its charm and success to its compelling antihero, Charles Howard. An established author of mysteries featuring a burglar-detective, Howard himself is a successful burglar. While finishing his latest novel in Amsterdam, Howard receives a cryptic invitation via his Web site and follows his curiosity to a meeting with a mysterious American who somehow knows of the author's secret profession. Howard initially declines the commission to steal two small plaster monkeys, but when he succeeds in his assignment, he finds his client has been brutally bludgeoned. After becoming a suspect, Howard scrambles to understand the link between the monkeys and a diamond heist over a decade earlier. The ease with which Ewan creates a memorable protagonist and pits him against a plausible and tricky killer will be the envy of many more established authors. The detection is first-rate, and Howard is a fresh, irreverent creation who will make readers eager for his next exploit. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


 “This [is an] impressive debut, a comic whodunit. . . . Howard is a fresh, irreverent creation who will make readers eager for his next exploit.”  Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Charlie is agreeable company, producing that stream of witty patter that seems quintessentially British as he narrates his own skilled thievery and flights of quick thought . . . seeing the pieces fly together at the end without a single missing bit is pretty fun.” —Houston Chronicle

Ewan’s droll, funny, noirish style, cleverly drawn central character, and great descriptions of locale will make this a popular new series.” —Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 614 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 13, 2007)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,272 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A clever, enjoyable book. July 8, 2009
First Sentence: "I want you to steal something for me."

Charlie Howard is a suspense writer. He is also a thief. Charlie is approached by an American who offers him 20,000 euros to steal to monkey figurines from two different men on the same night. Charlie declines but, liking a challenge, decides to go ahead. He finds the first monkey but is interrupted by another, less subtle burglar, while looking for the second. When he returns to the American, he finds him beaten and near death. Charlie is arrested but released and determined to find the Three Wise Monkeys and the secret behind them.

Ewan begins with a very good, intriguing opening chapter and a delightful writing style and voice. Charlie is a likeable, albeit crooked, character and I appreciated the back story Ewan provided. I also enjoyed the discussions Charlie had with his agent in London, Victoria. They've never met; she thinks he looks like his jacket cover photo. Their relationship reminded me of the Richard Diamond television series from the late 1950's and his conversations with Sam (voice of Mary Tyler Moore) whose legs where the only thing you saw.

All of Ewan's characters were well done. Ewan's voice is one wry humor but never out of place. He takes the characters and the action seriously. His sense of place was not as strong as I might have liked, although it did improve as the story went on.

What I didn't particularly care for, or is not my preferred style, was the round-up-all-the-players-and-expose-the-truth, ending. It took away from a story that, up to that point, had been very well plotted and filled with unexpected twists right up to the ending.

Overall, it was a clever, enjoyable book.

THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM (Trad. Mys/Anti-Hero-Charlie Howard-Amsterdam-Cont) - G+
Ewan, Chris - 1st in series
Minotaur Books, 2009, Trade paperback - ISBN: 9780312570828
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new mystery author - love the main character! October 28, 2009
I read a ton of mystery novels. It's very rare that I feel I have uncovered a "new voice", or a fresh premise. The main character is flawed but likeable, the plot is intriguing and tight, and the pacing is perfect. After I read it, I immediately went online to find out if "The Good Thief's Guide to Paris" was out yet - finally, it is! Fans of Craig Johnson and other "self-deprecating hero with a sense of humor" novels will enjoy this. Having visited Amsterdam, it was also fun to picture the scenes in various places as they were "painted" by the author and my own memory.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad first novel, but rather sloppy in some ways November 4, 2011
Charlie Howard is a British author of detective novels the continuing protagonist of which is a burglar. Strangely enough, Charlie Howard himself is also a burglar. He's not really a bad guy -- picking the locks to places where he oughtn't to be and taking things that don't belong to him just gives him a special thrill and also helps with his cash flow. He likes to live for awhile in the cities where his stories are set and just now he's wrapping up a book in Amsterdam. And then he's approached by an American who wants him to break into two homes and steal a small figurine from each -- the Three Wise Monkeys, in fact. Charlie is puzzled because they're made of plaster and obviously are intrinsically worthless. But he does the job anyway and then finds that the guy who hired him has been beaten senseless. And then things really start to get out of hand. Charlie is going to have to solve what becomes the American's murder in order to protect himself, both from the police and from the real killer. The plotting is pretty good and so is the character of Charlie, who tends to approach the case the same way he handles the construction of the plot in one of his novels. He even sets up a classic Detective Reveals All scene in the last chapter. As a first novel, this is a pretty good one.


This book would really have benefited from the attentions of even a novice copyeditor. There are far too many weird constructions, peculiar usages, and just plain errors. Charlie says a number of times (intransitively) that he "was stood outside" some building or "was sat" in a chair. If that's a Brit idiom, I've never heard it before. On another occasion, he rather jarringly describes a damaged item as a "right off." ("Team" and "teem" aren't actually synonymous, either.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun whodunit caper September 8, 2008
I found this story to be really a fun read, a good whodunit that doesn't get too complicated or cumbersome. It reads quickly but not at the expense of being too elementary or simplistic. The events are narrated in the first person by the protagonist, an author by day and a self-trained thief when it suits him. In addition to the entertaining story, Ewan makes good use some wry and sarcastic humor displayed by our author/thief. I also liked his laid-back demeanor and persona. Ewan makes it all fit together very well and those bits of humor along with the plot twists and turns keep the reader turning the pages. There is, however, not a classic "good vs. evil" in this story, as most all of the characters live on the shadier side of life. Ewan's use of Amsterdam and it's world-famous diamond trade, as well as its neighborhoods and references to some Dutch cultural nuances and mannerisms, lent this story authenticity. It was clear the author has spent time in Amsterdam and is acquainted with the Dutch people and culture. He used his knowledge well to support the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Much Mystery or Depth
The good thief did not seem especially good to me, nor especially adept at thievery.

I like mysteries and I like series where I get to know the characters. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Just My Op
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable
This is probably one of the first murder mystery books I've read, and I'd have to say it was really fun to read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Adam Rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars Good thief stole my attention
A very different kind of mystery and very well written one. I'm going to follow this character through his next adventures in exciting international cities.
Published 6 months ago by Lynn Kenney
5.0 out of 5 stars In addition to the very creative premise are great characters and a...
First, as always, is the story. In this case, the author wrote one of the most creative mysteries I've ever read, with an engaging "detective" character unlike no other. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Leon Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, light summer read
All these Good Theif Guides are very Entertaining. You get a nice tour of whichever city he's in and it's fun.
Published 14 months ago by Bunnymom
1.0 out of 5 stars Read B4 Wasting Your Money
If you're hoping like I was for an author who's stories are actually believable this isn't the one.
I have a friend wo's a locksmith and the frequent desriptions of lock... Read more
Published 16 months ago by BSbuster
4.0 out of 5 stars Chris Ewan certainly writes good books!
I cannot say it was perfect but it was a good, fast- paced read that kept me entertained.
Certainly worth shelling out for and it wasn't far off a 5 star. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Chris Thatcher
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent whodunit debut
Chris Ewan's debut mystery features Charlie Howard, an occasional accomplished master thief and mystery author himself. Read more
Published 16 months ago by jtk
4.0 out of 5 stars Book seller description was spot on but not sure if I am a fan of...
The books arrived promptly and in the shape described. I have just started the book and not sure if I am a fan of the Good Thief yet. Need to read more.
Published 17 months ago by H. Rendleman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
The premise, and the plot, is rather interesting and I found myself keeping on reading as I really wanted to figure out what this three monkeys were all about. Read more
Published 21 months ago by M. Massenzio
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More About the Author

Chris Ewan is an award-winning British author of eight novels. His popular series of mysteries about globetrotting thief-for-hire, Charlie Howard, include THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM, THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO PARIS, THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO VEGAS, THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO VENICE and THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO BERLIN. Chris has also written the standalone thrillers, SAFE HOUSE and DEAD LINE. Chris's latest standalone thriller, DARK TIDES, will be published in the UK by Faber & Faber in October 2014.

THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM won the Long Barn Books First Novel Award and went on to be published in 13 countries. SAFE HOUSE has been a major bestseller in the UK and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. In 2011, Chris was voted one of America's favourite British authors by a Huffington Post poll.

Born in Taunton in 1976, Chris graduated from the University of Nottingham with 1st Class Honours in American Studies with a minor in Canadian Literature, and later trained as a lawyer. He now lives on the Isle of Man with his wife, daughter and labrador, where he writes full time.

Find out more at You can also get in touch with Chris on Twitter @chrisewan or email him at

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