Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch (Bantam)

lynch

The science-fiction caper novel constitutes a small genre to begin with (Keith Laumer and Harry Harrison may be its best-known names), but Lynch added something entirely new to it with his debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006). That novel, which told the story of a young boy taken under the wing of a master thief, was set on a distant planet but at a stage in the planet’s history roughly equivalent to our own pirate age. Now Locke, the talented boy who became a world-class thief, returns with a caper so big it defies all reason—to penetrate the vault of the Sinspire, the most protected casino on the planet, and take its contents. If the first novel had undercurrents of Oliver Twist, this one is more in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven or The Sting: fast paced, colorful, funny, with a fiendishly intricate plot containing plenty of right-angle turns. Locke and his partner, Jean, trade banter like Redford and Newman and work their light-fingered magic with charm and panache. Lynch hasn’t merely imagined a far-off world, he’s created it, put it all down on paper—the smells, the sounds, the people, the feel of the place. The novel is a virtuoso performance, and sf/fantasy fans will gobble it up, though they’ll have to fight with caper novel aficionados for every crumb.

This review originally appeared in Booklist, August 2007.

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