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The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam Hardcover – November 13, 2007

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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" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Spectrum by Alan Jacobson
FBI profiler Karen Vail's current case takes readers back to the beginning, with flashbacks to her rookie days as an NYPD patrol officer. "Spectrum" is a great way for new readers of the series to jump into the action. Learn more

Product Details

  • Series: Good Thief's Guide (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition (1 in number line) edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376338
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,774,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Customer Reviews

This book was an enjoyable read and the Amsterdam backdrop definitely rang true.
Not as good as his latest book, Safe House, which I got on audible, but still a good read.
It wasn't really good, it wasn't really bad...just a pleasant story set in a pretty place.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By M. Freedman on October 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Long Ago on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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