cover image The Best Thing You Can Steal

The Best Thing You Can Steal

Simon R. Green. Severn House, $28.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9122-8

Green (the Ishmael Jones series) gives an urban fantasy twist to Oceans 11 in this lackluster heist story. Londoner Gideon Sable specializes in stealing what can’t be stolen—like a ghost’s clothes, or a man’s luck—from people he feels deserve it. He sets his sights on “the worst man in the world,” Fredric Hammer, when Hammer’s ex-wife hires him to steal Hammer’s time television, a device capable of showing any moment from the past. To pull it off, Gideon must assemble a crack crew, including Annie Anybody, a femme fatale who magically makes machines fall in love with her; The Damned, an Underground-dwelling angel-killer; The Ghost, a spectral art forger; and Johnny Wilde, a Mad Hatter–esque drug inventor whose antics quickly grow irritating. Each of them wants revenge on Hammer for his crimes and eagerly join Gideon’s mission. Despite the clever worldbuilding of Green’s alternate London, the narrative is buried under a hoarder-level collection of noir and urban fantasy clichés, including a dated insistence on defining all the female characters by their relationships to men, and the result unintentionally reads like self-parody. This is only for the most devoted of Green’s fans. [em]Agent: Joshua Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary. (Apr.) [/em]