The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell


Goodreads: The Good Thieves
Series: None
Source: Library
Publication Date: August 2019


When Vita’s grandfather writes that the family mansion has been stolen by the villainous Victor Sowotore, Vita and her mother set out from England to New York to see what can be done.  Vita’s mother consults a lawyer.  Vita consults herself.  Determined that, this time, the wicked will not succeed, Vita teams up with an animal tamer, a trapeze artist, and a lockpick to steal back her family’s property.

Star Divider


Katherine Rundell is one of my favorite living writers.  She consistently writes atmospheric books with beautiful prose; The Good Thieves is no exception.  Set in 1920s New York City, The Good Thieves evokes wonder, decadence, and greed as it showcases the Big Apple through the eyes of a young girl newly arrived from England. Fans of Rundell will eagerly grab a copy of her latest work, but fans of middle-grade will also find plenty to enjoy here as Rundell takes them on a wildly improbably adventure to reclaim a family fortune.

Part of Rundell’s great charm is that her imagination seems limitless.  She has written books inspired by her childhood in Zibabwe, based on her experiences walking rooftops, and set in the Amazon.  She moves effortlessly from setting to setting, always managing to find excitement and adventure.  1920s New York City might seem like it would present more of a challenge to Rundell, since she specializes in somewhat unusual or quirky situations.  But she finds the marvelous in a big, strange city, too, as protagonist Vita teams up with an animal tamer, an aspiring trapeze artist,and a child thief/ lock pick.

The beauty of it all is that the less savory parts of the city coexist so closely with the shiny parts; Vita travels not only among the rich and among the fabulous, but also among the poor and abandoned. She witnesses the way in which wealth can corrupt, visits a speakeasy, and catches a glimpse of the operations of child street gangs.  She comes from a fortunate background, but she quickly learns that the world is not always fair or right.  To her credit, however, Vita is determined to fight back.  This time, this one time, she does not want the wicked to win.

The plot is poignantly driven by Vita’s great love for her grandfather, who taught her how to throw knives when she was recovering from polio. Though he tells her he is all right, Vita knows that the loss of his home is breaking him and she wants more than anything to make heal his fractured heart.  Her love and admiration for him almost excuses her dangerous plan to steal back that which was stolen.  The depiction of their relationship is one of the most moving parts of the book.

The Good Thieves is a heartfelt story about the lengths we will go to show our love for our families.  Fans of Rundell will find she has written another gem.  Those who do not yet know Rundell will find her a taste of what makes her writing so special.

3 Stars

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