The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin

Chris Ewan. Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-00297-6

A burglary assignment brokered by Charlie Howard’s agent, Victoria Newbury, proves much more trouble than it’s worth in Ewan’s outstanding fifth Good Thief’s Guide mystery (after 2011’s The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice). A representative of the British embassy in Berlin offers the professional thief a tidy sum to break into the homes of four people in search of something that the embassy official won’t describe (“You’ll recognize it when you see it”). The first apartment Charlie burgles has nothing of obvious value, but before leaving, he glances out the window and sees a murder in progress across the way. Torn between doing the right thing and self-preservation, he calls the crime into the police and watches as they enter the building and emerge without corpse or killer. Meanwhile, his search for the McGuffin attracts the attention of certain parties who aren’t hesitant to use violence. Ewan perfectly blends tension and humor in a neatly constructed plot. Agent: Valerie Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Aug.)