Review: The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch

The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch -- Guest review by Pam of 40-Something First Timer

The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doestch – which the title page tells me is “a thriller” – certainly starts out as a thrill ride. The first 30 pages are non-stop action, with car chases, shoot outs, daring prison escapes, villains and heroes. The end of the book is also a thrill a minute, with treasure hunts, more shoot outs, betrayals and daring escapes. However, the middle of the book is only sort of thrilling.

Each character is fleshed out – almost too much. We get to read about their entire life before this book, even characters that have apparently appeared in other books by this same author. Although fleshed out, the characters are still caricatures. The good guys are all good and the bad guys are all bad, except that all but two of the main characters are criminals. The good guys became thieves for noble reasons, while the bad guys became thieves for selfish reasons. It was a little too cut and dried for my taste. The so-called noble reasons were still pretty selfish if you dig just a little deeper.

The relationships are all a little too perfect, whether they are friendly or not.  And dialogue between characters seems contrived. The love scene feels forced and trite, leaving me rolling my eyes. Characters fight over things that real people would talk out – not just walk out.

Descriptions of places, buildings, cities and people are so drawn out they actually take away from the flow of the story. While it was interesting to read about what a harem really was, I don’t think taking several pages to describe it added to the story. It is only mentioned again as characters pass back through the area described.

The twists and turns throughout the book became tiring for me. Just when I thought the good guys were in the clear, the bad guys would suddenly show up. Just when I thought the bad guys might get away with their evil plans, the good guys would somehow show up. Both sides always seemed to be just one step ahead of their adversary. I began anticipating that. In the end, it seemed like the winners were just the luckier people. Because of that, in the end, the twist didn’t surprise me all that much.

I wanted to like this book, but I really didn’t. It took me much longer to read this book – which is just 469 pages – than it normally takes me to finish a novel. I found myself bored through much of the middle of the book. The places are beautiful and intriguing, but, too much time is spent describing them. The characters, with the exception of Paul Busch, are unlikeable. I also thought the story took way too long to come to its neatly wrapped conclusion.

There are other reviewers on the Internet who have very positive things to say about The Thieves of Darkness. On the other hand, Publishers Weekly says, “A shop-worn plot and stock characters mar Doetsch’s overlong third thriller to feature retired art thief Michael St. Pierre ... Clunky writing doesn't help.”

I have to agree with Publishers Weekly.

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