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The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam

(Good Thief's Guide #1)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  3,356 ratings  ·  514 reviews
Charlie Howard travels the globe writing suspense novels for a living, about an intrepid burglar named Faulks. To supplement his income---and to keep his hand in---Charlie also has a small side business: stealing for a very discreet clientele on commission.

When a mysterious American offers to pay Charlie 20,000 euros if he steals two small monkey figurines to match the one
ebook, 240 pages
Published November 13th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) I've noticed this as a growing trend, particularly in the detective fiction market, and more particularly in "cosy" detective fiction. It seems to be …moreI've noticed this as a growing trend, particularly in the detective fiction market, and more particularly in "cosy" detective fiction. It seems to be more prevalent in the detective series novels, making me think that they are rushed to press with minimal proofing, if any. I know from experience that many proofreaders of this sort of thing are university students making a little extra money, which may explain the decline in quality, given the decline in emphasis on mechanics and grammar, let alone spelling, in the education system.(less)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,356 ratings  ·  514 reviews

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Claudia Sorsby
A decent story, with a great setting (I love the Netherlands), all totally obscured by the absolute worst copy editing/proofreading I have ever seen. Weird constructions, flat-out grammatical errors, and the homonyms, oh, the homonyms. St. Martin's should be ashamed.

- First page, fifth sentence: "If I was a lesser writer,..." This should read, "If I were a lesser writer..." (an example of the otherwise rare subjunctive in English). This isn't a typo; it's consistently wrong, throughout the book.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Renee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lance Charnes
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who wish Bernie Rhodenbarr worked overseas
Recommended to Lance by: Criminal Element
Whodunits (or howdunits) headlined by criminals present a reader with a whole spectrum of bad behavior to choose from. Do you like gentleman burglars, like Bernie Rhodenbarr? Thugs like Parker? Charming rogues like Jack Foley? Psychopaths like Dexter, Ripley, or Serge Storms? They're all out there, ready to take you for a walk on the dark side.

Charlie Howard, Chris Ewan's burglar-protagonist in this book, is just a degree or two removed from Bernie but not quite as hard a case as, say, Tim Halli
Book Concierge
Charlie Howard is a successful mystery author, writing a series that features a professional burglar, Faulks. As a sideline – and I guess you could call it research – he also occasionally accepts a commission to steal certain items. When a stranger offers him an unusually high fee to steal a couple of seemingly worthless monkey figurines, his instincts tell him to decline while his curiosity urges him to comply. Before long he’s embroiled in a major intrigue, and a suspect in a murder.

This was
One of those books that I would have not finished if I had actually been reading it instead of listening to the audio. The premise of a mystery writer who moonlights as a burglar sounded great but the characters were kind of flat and the plot was not all that engaging. The narration by Simon Vance was the highlight of the whole enterprise.
Mel Siew
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I meant to read two months ago for my mystery discussion group, but never got around to it until now. "The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam" by Chris Ewan is about a man who not only writes caper novels featuring a career thief; he also happens to be one. Charlie Howard is writing his latest book while on an extended stay in Amsterdam when he’s contacted via his website to meet with an American who knows about his other, less legal profession and offers him 20,000 euros to steal w ...more
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam - Chris Ewan
audio performance by Simon Vance
3 stars

Charlie Howard is a mystery novelist who freelances as a burglar, or maybe he is a thief who writes on the side. His books aren’t selling as well as he would like. He takes a suspicious, ‘too good to be true’ burglary commission to help support his lifestyle. Naturally, his life becomes a bit complicated.
Charlie has a nice sense of humor and this mystery had some satisfying twists and turns. Also, I could be h
Jill Shunk
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
An excellent mystery - smart and entertaining. Hopefully the rest of the series is just as much fun to read. This is why it pays to "window shop" at the library! ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cheeky, clever, & with a semblance of Dashiell Hammett & Raymond Chandler, this mystery novel entertained me through and through. This is the first in a series of "Good Thief" stories which I'd heard of and finally decided to try. Very pleased I did; the book itself is not particularly long, but the story was solid. I particularly liked that what seems simple on the surface is actually a little more complex as you peel back the layers. And, while this has some humorous elements to it, it had a h ...more
Meh. Found myself skimming over uninteresting descriptions. He uses the trope of having the hero do things such as search an apartment and find a clue, without telling the reader whose apartment it is. That's a cheap way to manufacture suspense.
-- spoilers! --
He even does the old-fashioned "get everyone together for dramatic finale where the investigator describes the crime and the bad guy is revealed". As if thieves and the police are going to show up together and sit quietly. He also su
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really enjoyed this. The narrator was wonderful and the storytelling was great! I will definitely read more of the series.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light and enjoyable entertainment.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can tell it was an enjoyable read because I was certainly pleased to find out when I finished this book that there were more books in the series. I engaged with the characters and the style of the story telling in this crime story. It is not a taxing read plus it is a relatively quick read ... think cosy crime with an international twist in the setting.
This is a twist on the Raffles-style mystery book for the modern generation with a crime writer burglar as our lead; as a side story he is even
Sue Wallace
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan.
Charlie Howard doesn't just write books about a career thief, he also happens to be one.In Amsterdam working on his latest novel, Charlie is approached by a mysterious American who asks him to steal two apparently worthless monkey figurines from two separate addresses on the same night. At first he says no. Then he changes his mind. Only later, kidnapped and bound to a chair, the American very dead and a spell in police custody behind him, does
Liza Fireman
This is a story about Charlie, a mediocre writer that also performs at the thief. He was asked to steal three monkeys in Amsterdam. One that covers his ears, one that covers his eyes, and the last that covers his mouth. He doesn't know what's it worth of the monkees because they seem pretty worthless.
The story over all is okay but I didn't really that much to the characters and not everything made complete sense.
Entertaining. 3 stars.
Arg. This book started relatively well and then went quickly downhill.

I've realized that I have a thing for reading upper-class, Brit detectives-for-pleasure stories as a way of sort of detoxing between heavier reads or a spate of a certain type of book (i.e. 32 YA vampire novels). They are generally straightforward and pleasurably formulaic (I mean that in a good way), while being replete with wit and charm and colloquial phrases that make me giggle. A recent example of a book in this vein tha
Angee Glastra
Aug 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
Fun quick whodunit read. Great summer read and fun to have it set in Amsterdam ;)
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a lot of fun. I took to the wit and charm of the master thief, through whose perspective the story is told, right away. And because the book is quick to jump into the ins and outs of how he plies his trade, and quick to action, it was all the easier to get swept into the story. When he goes from a successful pair of heists to being enmeshed in a near-death with no idea how to extricate himself, it’s easy to empathize with him. And now you’re as curious as he is to get to the bottom ...more
An author, who writes about a thief, who happens to be a thief, gets tangled in the wrong crowd. This light, who-done-it, mystery was entertaining.
Sian Steen
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book put a smile on my face from the first page.

I loved the cliffhangers at the end of almost every chapter, and found it hard to put down. Lots of twists and turns, though I did feel like the showdown at the end was quite difficult to follow.

Charlie is a really fun character, and I enjoyed his escapades.

I did find that some of the sentences were a little long, which made them tricky to follow, but all in all very enjoyable.

Can't wait to read the others!
Chris Witkowski
Very enjoyable, cleverly constructed mystery about an author of mystery books, who just happens to be a burglar on the side. Or maybe it's the other way around - burglary is his main profession, writing just a hobby? Lighthearted tale, set in one of my favorite cities, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with an intricate plot. Charlie is hired by a man to break into two homes and steal two small plaster monkeys;he is given detailed descriptions of the apartments and told just where to find the objects. ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
If Chris Ewan was an architect, his philosophy wouldn't be "less is more", Corbusier is he not. His buildings would probably be of Richard Roger's intricate steel structures. His detective story sure is. Well, probably not that complicated but I can see how he revels in plots & details, there's a conclusion he made involving a break-in using mallet & drill, there's a gun being hidden somewhere that turned up again several chapter later, there's a manuscript with a plot hole involving a briefcase ...more
Good, clean fun. I might even follow this self-absorbed hack writer (speaking of the protagonist, not his creator, although...) to Paris for another silly caper. What I needed to get through a stressful couple of days.

A couple of months ago I attended a day-long writing conference. It was a series of workshops featuring a multitude of themes; most sessions featured writing prompts that we responded to and then read our writing aloud.

There was this thing I noticed from fellow participants who w
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I travel, I try to read a book before hand that has something to do with that locale. This summer I traveled to the Netherlands and picked 2 books to read - Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (great story but has almost nothing to do with Amsterdam) and The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam. This is the first of Chris Ewan's 'Good Thief' series which revolve around a mystery author, Charlie Howard, who happens to supplement his income with a bit of burglary on the side. Charlie is no ordinary burgla ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charlie Howard writes books about thieves and suspense. He's also a thief himself. Approached by a man who wants him to steal three monkey figurines of little apparent value, but the theft must occur in a certain time frame. Charlie decides, against his better judgment (the money's really good,) to take on the challenge. He recovers two of them only to discover he had competition, and that the American who hired him has been severely beaten and left for dead. Charlie is soon a suspect in the mur ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the book had a great premise--a crime novelist who writes about a thief, and is actually a thief himself!--the execution was really pretty bad. I had no sympathy for the main character, as he was boring and didn't really ever engage the reader. Also, the whole I'm-a-writer aspect seemed like it was just tacked on as an afterthought, and wasn't ever developed fully. While sometimes we saw the main character thinking about his book, we never saw him writing or revising in any depth. Finally, ...more
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Briskly moving and great sense of European atmosphere setting in Holland, but this mystery thriller/romp regarding a first person narrative about a mystery author who supplements his income by burglary, becomes very confusing at its "bring the suspects all together in the same room" ending. The main character, Charlie Howard is having trouble trying to fix a situation in the mystery he is writing and the same could be said for the author of this novel who jams a lot of information and whys and ' ...more
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Writing as C.M. Ewan, my latest thriller is A WINDOW BREAKS.

I'm also the author of the popular GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO ... series of mysteries about globetrotting crime writer and thief-for-hire, Charlie Howard. The series has been praised as "crime writing at its best" (Sydney Morning Herald) and a "delightful series" (The Seattle Times) and comprises THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM (winner of

Other books in the series

Good Thief's Guide (5 books)
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Paris (Good Thief's Guide, #2)
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas (Good Thief's Guide, #3)
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Venice (Good Thief's Guide, #4)
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin (Good Thief's Guide, #5)

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