I loved this quirky little story. It’s told in the first person by a thief who in on parole, again, after having been released from  jail, again. By his own admission, he’s not a very good thief.

(and I do count myself as competent at breaking in, it’s the getting out and away with it that tends to be a little more problematic)

After being released, he is set up in an apartment in a run-down building. On the top floor lives a man who spends most of his time looking out his window through an expensive, fancy telescope. This man, who people refer to as Buzz, as in Lightyear, has a proposition for our narrator.

The characters make this an enjoyable story. The narrator has an off-beat way of looking at life, and he’s so honest about his faults, about the system, about his outlook. Buzz is just nutsy enough to be uniqe, and I enjoyed the interactions between the two of them, both not quite sure how far to believe the other.

It’s not a dramatic story, it’s light, but each of the characters is unique and has issues. Buzz’s telescope is his life, the rest of his apartment is a disorganized mess, with half-eaten meals laying around in the midst of the clutter. The thief is in and out of jail, but uses his time inside to read and has some interesting things to say.

Definitely enjoyable.

Phil Lovesey is the author of four crime novels: Death Duties (1998); Ploughing Potter’s Field (1999); When the Ashes Burn (2000); and most recently, The Screaming Tree (2002).

5,274 words
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine May 2011

4½ out of 5 stars

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