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4th March
2010
written by Steph

Now this is good cover art!

After the emotional turmoil of The House of the Spirits, I felt I needed a change of pace.  I wanted a book that was light and somewhat frivolous; a real literary palate cleanser. Y’all know that I like serious, sobering fiction, but I also have a penchant for quirky literary fiction as well.  Something Missing by Matthew Dicks definitely fit the bill! Martin is anything but your run-of-the mill thief.  Rather than lowering himself to the level of odious “smash and grabbers”, Martin cultivates long-standing relationships with his clients, visiting certain households on a fixed schedule and liberating them of certain items that are unlikely to be missed.  This means stocking up on toilet paper, food items, and the occasional bottle of Draino.  Of course, he does nab a few big-ticket items once in a while, but these feats of larceny require months of cautious surveillance and careful planning. Martin attributes much of his success to strictly adhering to a set of rules he’s established for himself, which he refuses to deviate from.  Only, one day while on a job, things don’t go quite as planned and many of his rules fly out the window.  Martin soon finds himself making up new rules as he goes, all in a bid to make the lives of his clients just a little bit better.  After all, seeing how much they’ve given him, it doesn’t seem too much to ask that Martin give a little something back, right? Such a fun book, you guys!  The writing was really engaging, and Martin was a really interesting and complex character.  He shouldn’t be likable, and yet you can’t help but feel fondness for the guy.  While I was reading, I kept thinking that Dicks has done here what the writers on the tv show Dexter have done – taking someone who does terrible things, but make the audience root for him nonetheless.  I have to think it’s no small feat to create a character who is so morally objectionable and yet sympathetic at the same time.  I became really invested in Martin, and loved reading about his adventures, so really, this was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. I don’t really know why this book didn’t get more publicity when it was released, but it was a real shame!  It’s not a perfect book by any means (one storyline in particular is a tad maudlin and feels like an afterthought, and at times the dialogue can be a bit underwhelming), but it’s a fun romp, perfect for reading on the weekend or at the beach.  And for a debut, I appreciated its ingenuity and the fact that the author picked a pretty “out there” idea to run with. I thought the title in particular was extremely clever (and the cover art is fab), since it relates not only to things that Martin pilfers but also to the various things that are missing from Martin’s own existence. Highly recommended if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary and is a real joy to read.  It’s not going to win the Pulitzer, but it will probably bring a smile to your face… and may get you thinking the next time you can’t find that toothpaste you’re sure you purchased! Rating: 4 out of 5

15 Comments

  1. This sounds great! I haven’t heard of it before, but I do love the idea. I’m going to keep an eye out for it and take it with me when I go away on holiday. Thanks for drawing it to my attention!

  2. 03/04/2010

    I have this book! I hadn’t seen any reviews for it but got a review copy unsolicited, so I was planning to read it but wasn’t really all that eager about it. I think I should change my mind now. I’ll remember your review when I want something fun.

  3. 03/04/2010

    Steph,

    Thanks so much for the wonderful review and the support of the book. My Google Alert pointed me to your blog, and your words certainly made my day. I’m an elementary school teacher in addition to being an author, and after an especially difficult day like today, it’s always incredibly refreshing to hear that someone has enjoyed my story.

    And thanks for passing on word of it to your readers. The book has been doing well but could certainly use as many word-of-mouth recommendations as it can muster.

    My next book, UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO hits stores on August 3. Hopefully you enjoy it just as much. If there’s anything I can do to support your blog in the future, please let me know. I’ll certainly be linking to your review of the book soon!

    Many thanks.

    Warmly,
    Matt
    ____________
    Matthew Dicks
    matthewdicks.com

  4. 03/04/2010

    I hadn’t heard of this before, but it does sound like a really fun read! I will have to look for this one and save it for when I need something light and entertaining. Glad to hear that you had such a good time with it. Great review!

  5. 03/04/2010

    I do like the cover!

  6. 03/04/2010

    I haven’t heard of it either, but it does sound like fun!

  7. 03/05/2010

    @ Jackie: I think you’d really enjoy this book! Perfect for your next holiday trip!
     
    @ Meghan: Oh, you should definitely give this one a chance! It’s really such wonderful fun, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
     
    @ Matt: Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! I hope my review convinces some readers to give your book a try, because I doubt they’ll be disappointed they did. It was a great read and I’m excited to hear you have a new book coming out this summer.
     
    @ zibilee: I really think you should give this one a shot, because I’m pretty sure you’d like it a lot. I like to intersperse lighter reads with my more serious fiction and this was a wonderful change of pace!
     
    @ Rebecca: Yes, it’s an excellent and clever cover!
     
    @ softdrink: It’s really a shame more people haven’t heard of this one, because I think many people would like it a lot! It’s very different from most books being published these days, which was something I really appreciated.

  8. 03/07/2010

    I was immediately attracted to this cover art a few months ago, obtained the book from my local library, and then life took over and I never had a chance to read it.

    I am so glad to hear that it is a worthwhile read and I will definitely make time to read it sometime soon.

  9. 03/08/2010

    @ Molly: I do hope you’re able to make time for this one in the future! I think you’d like it a lot! (But I fully understand borrowing books with the best of intentions only to have life interfere… it’s like my life story!)

  10. kay
    03/08/2010

    This sounds like a fun book! I had never heard about it before, so I a glad I got to read your revie wof it.

  11. 03/09/2010

    @ kay: So much fun! I think you’d like it a lot! Definitely quirky and light!

  12. 03/09/2010

    I’ll definitely look out for this – I love quirkiness in a book, and quirky crime is a rarity.

  13. 03/11/2010

    @ Annabel: You’re right, there aren’t very many quirky crime novels, but this one certainly is! I hope you enjoy it!

  14. […] blame this one on Steph’s review! It sounds like such a fun, original novel, I know I’ll just have to read it at some point. […]

  15. […] endearing and unusual catburglar as its protagonist (note: Martin did not actually steal cats), and I was duly charmed. So when I saw Dicks had a second book out I was very excited indeed, and I’m happy to report […]

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