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The Lies of Locke Lamora
Scott Lynch
Bantam Spectra, 512 pages

The Lies of Locke Lamora
Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1978 and currently lives in Wisconsin with his fiancee. He moonlights as a game designer and volunteer firefighter. The Lies of Locke Lamora is his first novel.

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SF Site Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

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A review by Donna McMahon

Locke Lamora is a thief so audacious, able and discreet that even the underworld crime boss of Camorr has no inkling that Locke has amassed a fortune by swindling the local nobility. Along with his close associates, the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is in the midst of his biggest con game ever, posing as a Vadran wine merchant to entice the Don and Dona Salvara to invest twenty-five thousand crowns in an entirely bogus business deal.

But the very complexity of Locke's intrigues leave him vulnerable to disaster. The secret police of Camorr, the Midnighters, are on his trail. And he is being drawn unwillingly into a bloody feud between the local crime boss and a ruthless newcomer -- the Gray King -- who has a terrifying secret agenda.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a remarkably competent debut novel, set in a gritty and decadent Fantasy cityscape reminiscent of Renaissance Italy. Scott Lynch's fine abilities as a storyteller imbue this book with a strong sense of realism despite the fact that the action is as far over the top as a Batman movie. The characters are compelling, the plotting is tight, and the writing is vivid. And Locke as a young criminal prodigy makes a fascinating protagonist, reminiscent of Bean in Ender's Shadow.

I did find the narrative structure disruptive. Particularly in the first half of the book, Lynch jumps around in time every few pages, moving back and forth from the current action to episodes in Locke's childhood and apprenticeship as a thief. Every time I settled down to enjoying one story thread, I was jerked into another, and the choppy flashbacks reduced the story tension for me rather than increasing it.

I also found that the explicit carnage exceeded my personal tastes -- getting so bloody that it eventually seemed silly.

Still, the colourful city of Camorr, teeming with predatory characters, was a fascinating place to visit. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, due out from Bantam in June 2007.

Copyright © 2007 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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