Review: Portrait of a Thief

Grace Li fooled me. Looking at the book jacket and hearing the basic plot, I thought this was a literary debut novel about young first generation children of immigrants. That’s what it’s about, but it’s a heist story. And a pretty good one.

When I say it’s not literary, I mean that the characters are less deep than I imagine when I hear that description. Even that’s a not quite right. It’s not Melville literature that needs to be rediscovered years later. It’s Dumas or Dickens literature where people line up for the next installment.

There’s meat in here, but if the choice is between flashy writing, psychological development, or commentary and a zippy thriller, Li picks the second.

Once I got on board, I warmed to the novel pretty well. I can pick nits with the best of them and this isn’t immune. But in the end it was a fun heist movie with a lot of blockbuster vibes that features a lot of engaging protagonists. They represent a lot of folks who don’t get a lot of attention in blockbusters and they’re front and center here.

It’s a fun read.

Strongly Recommended.

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