The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, Review

The writing of Katherine Rundell is magic. Each of her books is filled with such whimsy and charming characters and The Good Thieves is no exception.

The book is set in New York City in the ’1920s. A writer’s note mentions the real phenomenon of a Carnegie Hall’s circus, which is the backdrop for the story and adds a fantastic and enchanting setting. Then the story winds around the streets of ’1920s New York City in all its gilt-edged glory, when Vita and her ragtag group of friends plan a heist to steal her grandfather’s precious emerald necklace, which is the key to hiring a lawyer and fighting for the castle of her grandfather, put together piece by piece from the Hudson Valley, and snatched by a conniving real estate developer with ties to the mob.

Vita is
brave and cunning with her love for her grandfather as well as her hatred for
evil men such as Sorrotore, who takes advantage of the less fortunate for their
greedy personal gain. She is the “just-in-case,” because of her ability to
throw with expert precision, a skill that her grandfather taught her as she was
bedridden with polio as a child, a sickness which claimed the full use of one
of her feet.

The circus
boys, Sam and Arkady, are both virtuosos. Arkady has an uncanny way with
animals. He can train the birds of New York and horses and dogs that he just
met while Sam can fly. Their acrobatic skills are unbelievable and will help
the group get over the high walls of the castle.

The team is rounded out by Silk, an unwilling thief, who wants to live a normal life. She was an orphan and lived off the streets, pickpocketing into glamorous parties like the ones Sorrotore throws, a servant, when Vita met her. She turns Vita down, preferring to work alone and avoid getting caught with a team of unknown kids. However, her lock-pick skill is unparalleled so eventually, she joins the team.

Top 8 Casino Based Books (part 2)

5. The Battle for Las Vegas, written by Dennis Griffin

During the 1970s and 1980s, Vegas was a battleground between law and organized crime. The Battle for Las Vegas focuses not just on the big names of the time such as “The Ant” Spilotro and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal but also on the key law enforcement figures helping to bring down the mob rule of the biggest casinos. It’s argued to be a more rounded approach to the subject than the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas.

6. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, written by
Jeffery Archer

Four people that
lost their fortune to the same man, come together to claim it all back. Although
it focuses on several elements of high society in their attempts to con the con
artist, the story takes the four men to Monte Carlo as part of their game to
outwit the person that defrauded them. It provides readers an interesting
insight into the glitz of Monaco with lavish seafront casinos and nightlife.

7. The Biggest Game in Town, written by Al Alvarez

The Biggest Game in Town is considered as the most important book ever written about game poker. The book deeply examines the poker tables in Las Vegas. Alvarez, an avid poker player, traveled to Vegas to study The World Series of Poker – the most famous tournament in the game. There are also biographies of some famous players and an unprecedented view of the modern game.

8. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King,
written by Michael Craig

The people that play in casinos are often as interesting as the casinos themselves. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King is Andrew Beal’s biography as well as his challenge of high stakes poker games in Vegas, particularly about his years-long challenge to a group of celebrated players called “The Corporation”. The book adds all the tension of a casino game meanwhile delving into the world of the nail-biting game of poker.