No Such Creature
Review: Giles Blunt advances an interesting crime caper-type premise in his latest stand-alone thriller No Such Creature, but doesn't really develop it much beyond simple storytelling.
Magnus "Max" Maxwell and his great-nephew Owen Maxwell are gentlemen thieves, charming their victims as they relieve them of their jewels and money, all the while eschewing violence of any kind. Their carefully executed crimes and cleverly devised disguises keep them out of jail but not out of the sights of a band of thieves of thieves known as the Subtractors. As Max and Owen begin their cross-country journey from California back to their home in New York City, they're followed by the Subtractors, who are determined to take — by any means necessary — everything the Maxwells have so artfully acquired.
It isn't quite clear what the author was trying to achieve with No Such Creature. In some ways, the novel has the potential to be a comic caper, what with Max's theatrical approach to his profession, his Shakespearean way of speaking, even the massive motor home that incongruously serves as their home away from home. But any humor in the narrative is subdued, to say the least. Then again, it also has the potential to be a suspense novel or thriller with the Maxwells unknowingly being chased by the ruthless Subtractors … but the leisurely pacing of the plot suggests otherwise. Even the mysterious Sabrina, the daughter of a colleague (as it were) of Max's who enters the picture about a third of the way through, doesn't clarify much. Is she really the innocent young woman she appears to be, or is there something more sinister lurking just beneath the surface? And while No Such Creature is entertaining in its own way (the dialog, in particular, is exceptionally witty: "If he's so awful, why were you so friendly to him?" "That, my boy, is one of the cruelties of incarceration. One must choose one's friends from a very murky pool."), it's ever so slightly disappointing as it fails to meaningfully engage the reader's participation in the journey. It should be noted, though, that the ambiguous ending, while completely in keeping with the rest of the novel, is nonetheless delightfully unexpected.
Acknowledgment: Henry Holt provided an ARC of No Such Creature for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
By the Time You Read This
Henry Holt (Hardcover), February 2007
ISBN-13: 9780805080612; ISBN-10: 0805080619
Location(s) referenced in No Such Creature:
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No Such Creature by Giles Blunt
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: May 2009
List Price: $25.00