cover image Something Missing

Something Missing

Matthew Dicks, . . Broadway, $14 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-3088-8

An expert thief unexpectedly finds himself aiding his victims in Dicks's charming if rambling debut. During his hours off, barista Martin Railsback burgles the houses of folks he calls his “clients,” taking only what they won't notice is missing: for instance, “three boxes of long grain rice... two rolls of toilet paper (in Martin's estimation, the Gallos had excellent taste in toilet paper), three cups of olive oil” and, on occasion, something really valuable. The system works beautifully until the day Martin drops a client's toothbrush into the toilet and feels compelled to replace it. This act of simple decency sets him on an entirely different course, and pretty soon he's breaking into houses to improve the lives of their occupants. Martin's own life starts looking up, too, with the possibility of romance and a new avocation, but the specter of real peril looms. Dicks struggles with digression and repetition—Martin's obsessive allegiance to the rules of his pastime becomes exasperating—but he's created a winning hero in Martin, a crook with a heart of gold. (July)