Carey, Peter. THEFT. (2006). ***. Carey, a writer from Australia, is a two-time winner of the Booker Prize (“Oscar & Lucinda,” and “The True History of the Kelly Gang.”) – the only other writer to do so being J. M. Coetze. His books are usually eminently readable and are full of wit and humor. He manages to draw his characters so perfectly that we think we know someone just like them – but wouldn’t admit it. In this novel he tells the story of two brothers: Michael “Butcher” Boone, and his younger brother, Hugh. Butcher is an artist whose work has gone out of fashion and his is down on his uppers. He is forced to live in the house of his biggest collector as a house-tender – at no pay. His brother, Hugh, naturally, is with him. I say naturally because Hugh is slightly retarded (that’s not the right word – he simply seems to do strange things that are not understood by the rest of the population.) and is glued to Butcher’s hip. Butcher is planning a comeback when he meets a woman art expert who gets him involved in an art theft from his closest neighbor’s house. The character of Butcher will remind you of the protagonists in J. P. Donleavy’s “The Ginger Man,” and Joyce Carey’s “The Horse’s Mouth.” The novel is told through alternating chapters told by Butcher and Hugh, and is well plotted. Unfortunately, when stacked and rated vs. Carey’s other works, it falls short.