The Best Thing You Can Steal (Gideon Sable 1) by Simon R Green

Stars: 3 out of 5

I love me a good heist and I am always excited to read about London in urban fantasy. It’s such an ancient and wonderful city that adding a magical element only adds to it’s fascination. So I dived into this series without reservation and read this book in a day. 

So what’s my verdict? It’s popcorn stuff. It’s a fun little romp through a fictional magical London, full of action and never a dull moment… It’s also pretty light on substance. I mean the whole book is about introducing the team, then explaining the plan, then executing the heist. Pretty straightforward.

And that’s the biggest drawback of this story, I think – I would expect a plan to fail, things to go wrong forcing the team to improvise. And while it does a little, none of the drawbacks seem dangerous or earthshattering. Ultimately, the plan goes exactly as formulated in our protagonist’s head. I never worried about the characters being in danger, because they really weren’t.

Part of the issue is that all of the characters are so overpowered that it’s hard to imagine that anything can truly hurt them. I mean the Damned has the armor of angels. The Wild Card can alter reality as it pleases him. The Ghost is a ghost, so bullets can’t hurt him. The only real humans are Anny Anybody and our protagonist, but the author never puts them in real danger. 

Finally, the villain himself is rather underwhelming all things considered. We spend the whole book building him up as this ruthless horrible person, someone extremely overpowered and who is in possession of unimaginable artifacts… What we get at the end is a mustache-swirling Bond villain who monologues about how villainous he is for about 10 pages, then gets beaten by a McGuffin. 

As I said, don’t read this book if you are looking for a memorable villain and edge of your seat action with high stakes and life and death situations. However, if you are looking for a quick read to take to the beach with you or to your morning commute – this definitely fits the bill. And while I seem critical, I did like it well enough to continue with the series. 

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