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Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit

Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit back

Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough



The magic of catching fireflies early evening with his son, who dashes through the penumbral woods into a low, golden-orbed sunset... That’s when Conrad Paulson AKA Redmond wakes up. Breakfast smells delicious.

"You're out of bacon."
"Meant to go to the store."
"Just eggs and toast, then?"
"Mm. Sounds good."
"You want some juice?"
"Sure. Oh, and before I forget -- You got a warrant?"

Oh, how I cackled when I read that. This is a book which won’t just surprise, it will astonish. Each smartly spliced scene in this classy crime caper has been meticulously arranged in far from chronological order for maximum gasps of “I never saw that coming”. It is easily the cleverest crime since CRIMINAL, and I love each slither’s subheading winks:

“What Goes Around.
Or, What Comes Around.”

“What Got Left Out Last Time.
Or, For Effect.”

Where to begin? Oh, right in the middle, I think. Redmond is the most notorious thief in modern American history, and Agent Elizabeth Cohen of the FBI is determined to catch him. That was her making breakfast, by the way, and we’re going to be calling him Redmond from now on because that’s what he wants: the reputation to spread. The problem Elizabeth faces is that Redmond knows how to dance, but she’s pretty nifty with the verbal fencing herself. Then finally a golden opportunity falls right in her lap: Redmond’s son, who hasn’t fallen far from the tree – he’s a thief too but with much less dexterity: he appears to have two right feet. Busted red-handed with kilos of stolen heroin, Augustus will be Cohen’s leverage. Wriggle out of that one, Redmond.

The dénouement is one big flash-flash of revelations spinning right back to the very first chapter and you’ll find yourself headed thataways immediately to re-read the whole thing with hindsight. It is watertight. So here we are, back at that beginning, which I review thus:

“I told you back then I didn’t need an assistant.”
“Apprentice. You told me back then you didn’t need an apprentice. And you didn’t tell me we’d be sleeping together.”
“We’re not sleeping together.”
“But I think I’ve made it very clear we could.”

Meet young punk and single mother Celia desperately trying to clear her student loan by jacking cars. Redmond did. Meet her, that is. He caught her trying to steal the wrong car with the wrong tools, in the wrong way for wrong fools. The wrong car was his.

So the thief of all thieves gave her a quick lesson in grand theft auto, saved her from being mugged by her fence and told her she should totally give it up. She should do something else. And now he wishes he hadn’t, because now she has: she’s joined his team of international con artists and, boy, does she relish her roles.

I was asked last week by a most excellent customer whether this was like Brubaker and Phillips’ CRIMINAL. It isn’t – this is comedy not noir – but it precisely like BBC’s The Hustle and I love the art by LUKE CAGE: NOIR’s Shawn Martinbrough who plays it cool with most excellent timing. The set-up’s from WALKING DEAD’s Robert Kirkman while the first story arc here is written by FORGETLESS’ Nick Spencer. I’ve been suckered and sucked in – and so will you be.
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