Rating: 3 stars
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The Actor & the Thief opens with Craig being released from prison. With his newfound freedom, Craig heads to Denver with a plan to pick up his criminal career where it left off. He meets up with an accomplice – an old friend – but things start to go wrong for him from there. His friend is brutally murdered, and from what Craig can tell from the grisly aftermath, it looks like the killers are coming for him next.
Craig makes plans to bounce, but then finds himself blindsided by a chance meeting with the only man he’s ever really loved – Adam Murray.
Craig is overwhelmed. Adam is a famous actor now, and he’s followed Adam’s career for years, but he honestly thought he’d never see him again. The two men reconnect, the spark is still there, but Craig’s life comes back to haunt them and for a while, their chance at happiness seems far, far away.
I’m going to stop my summary there, because to reveal much more would sap any enjoyment a reader would get from reading this book. The Actor and the Thief is a romance book with a heavy slice of mystery, and far be it for me to be a big bad spoiler.
On to my review…
I’ll start with the characters – Craig first, because I found the guy most interesting. He’s introduced at the start of the book in a major info-dump, but I kinda liked his inner monologue. I also enjoyed that he is a bit of a rogue…an unrepentant anti-hero. For a while, it made a refreshing change. Craig has some layers to his personality, and I appreciated the effort the author made to unravel him.
I wasn’t so taken with Adam. His personality is rather vapid and annoying. His dialogue is clichéd, and I found myself rolling my eyes far more than is healthy for a dusty old coot like me. Adam’s love for Craig is sweet, but their reunion happened too fast to be believable, and from this point on, I found it hard to connect to the plot of the book
I also had a problem with the huge amount of passive writing in this book. Almost every action scene is written either off page, or so passively it was hard to believe it was happening at all. Even Sammy’s murder is written in this style; the discovery of the body, everything. There is no emotion whatsoever, no connection to the reader, and it is hugely frustrating and distancing.
There is a scattering of utterly genius lines in this book, but they are unfortunately overshadowed by the weight of info-dumps and all-tell-no-show writing.
Sad, but true.
I did, however, appreciate the author’s use of older characters. There is a tendency in this genre right now to write older dudes with teenagers. In this book, both characters are of an age I understand, and I got a kick out of that. I also enjoyed the element of suspense that carried the sometimes flimsy plot along. I had zero emotional connection to the characters, but their attempts to keep a step ahead of their pursuers did keep me reading the book until the penultimate chapter.
The last chapter bugged the hell out of me. The pacing was all over the place, and the ending too neat and tidy, given the drama that unfolded just a few pages before.
So, to sum up, The Actor and the Thief is a mildly entertaining romp with some major style issues. A reasonable read if such things don’t bother you, but highly aggravating if they do.