The Thief

Pickpocket Nishimura has been hired by the dangerously violent Kizaki to commit a robbery--an investor, sitting on 80 million yen for which he hasn't paid taxes, possesses a packet of incriminating documents. After the robbery succeeds way too easily, Nishimura discovers that the old man they left bound and alive has been found murdered--and, far more than an investor, he's a politician.

The Thief is an inside look at a professional pickpocket's hazardous life, and Fuminori Nakamura serves it up fast and dirty. Nishimura, a hardened lost soul, hasn't shed all his humanity yet. When he sees that a kid shoplifting in the supermarket has been spotted by the store detective, he grabs the boy's stolen goods and buys them for him. The next morning, he finds the boy waiting outside his door. He teaches the boy how to steal without getting caught, and he becomes Nishimura's tagalong disciple.

The thrill in The Thief is not character but pace, and the pace never flags. Recaptured by Kizaki, Nishimura must steal three items--or die. Though it's too late to escape the consequences of a life of stealing, Nishamura tries to save the boy. Nakamura's unflinching portrait of syndicate ruthlessness may leave you wondering why exactly you've been conducted hurtling through this suspense piece only to be defeated by the irrational, merciless world of crime. --Nick DiMartino, Nick's Picks, University Book Store, Seattle

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