Monday, August 24, 2009

A break from fantasy for Something Missing

Posted by Simcha 4:43 PM, under | No comments

This weekend I took a short break from my regular fantasy reading for Matthew Dicks’ debut novel Something Missing. It’s another recommendation from my favorite blog, Books on the Nightstand, and I have been eager to read it as soon as I heard Anne Kingman describe the quirky and fun sounding plot of this book

Something Missing is about an off-beat, socially inept burglar, with OCD tendencies, who regularly steals from a select group of victims, or “clients,” as he calls them, but only takes items that will go unnoticed. Groceries, liquid plumber and the occasional neglected piece of jewelry are Martin’s usual targets, each item carefully chosen by the likelihood if its disappearance being overlooked by the homeowner.

Each client is carefully selected and researched, following Martin’s precise list of requirements, which include:

  1. No single clients
  2. No roommates, maids or children
  3. Never too rich, never too poor and never , ever through inheritance

Adhering to these rules is what has led to Martin’s success as a thief and has allowed him to maintain the same list of victims for many years. In fact, Martin has come to know these homeowners quite well over the years and had developed a fond attachment towards them, as he glides undetected through their lives. And so, when Martin one day accidentally knocks a homeowner’s toothbrushes into the toilet he feels compelled to replace it, horrified at the idea of the woman, whom he has come to care for, to unknowingly brush her teeth with a contaminated toothbrush.

Therefore, for one of the few times in his career as a burglar, Martin deviates from his carefully laid plans and breaks many of his own rules in order to right the wrong that he had inadvertently caused. But this deviation plummets Martin into a thrilling adventure that causes him to rethink his role in his victim’s lives, and changes his own life as a consequence.

After reading Something Missing I was reminded of one of the reasons that I love reading so much and that is the opportunity that it gives me to experience life through someone else's eyes. Martin is not a particularly likable individual, his awkwardness and oddities making him someone I would be unlikely to befriend. But Dicks causes us to not only get to know Martin, but to be him; to get inside his head and understand what makes him tick. I found Martin’s detailed explanations for each action and conversation to be fascinating, providing insight to a personality so different from my own. I particularly enjoyed the humor and cleverness in the numerous disguises that Martin adopts, from a writer of instruction manuals to an elderly retired woman who waxes eloquently of her worldly voyages.

My only real complaint is that sometimes Martin’s explanations were a little too wordy and bogged down the story a bit, but other then that I found Something Missing to be a delightful and highly enjoyable novel that I will enthusiastically be passing on to all my friends.

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