The Thief Maker
by D. H. Schleicher
(iUniverse / 0-595-40518-5 / October 2006 / 222 pages / $14.95)
There are several phrases that I must use to describe this book: plot twists, psychodrama, and morality play. The plot, concept, and style of The Thief Maker demand that these three be applied in any appropriate review. As far as I am concerned, D. H. Schleicher should be crowned the new King of the Plot Twists. There are so many of these, and they have been utilized so effectively, that they literally define the book. The Thief Maker is not exactly a thriller or a mystery, within the standard confines of these genres. The story is all about the characters and their complex and unexpected relationships with each other. Much of the action takes place within the characters' thoughts, emotions, and dialog. All the characters except for one young, innocent boy have morality issues. Each reader will have to decide for himself exactly how he feels about each character. The lead characters are good and bad at the same time, and each has his reasons for the justification of his actions.
There are three negative points that need to be mentioned. First of all, the dense plot jumps back and forth at various points within a timeframe of 1983 to 2007. The point of view changes from one character to another as it follows the bouncing time points. The combination of these two constant changes may demand a lot from a reader who is not paying close attention, and sometimes even the diligent reader could lose his point of reference. This is not to be construed as a very serious criticism, however. The book demands a certain level of attention and intelligence from the reader, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The plotting is so good that I would not desire any changes in this department. I would even go so far as to say that Mr. Schleicher has created a genuinely original niche for himself with this style of storyline.
The remaining two negatives are simply common problems with some iUniverse books. The cover doesn't effectively communicate anything to the reader concerning the plot or genre. The all-important blurb on the back is in small, red text that is difficult to read on its black background, leaving the glaring-white UPC label to stand out instead. The cover looks stylish, but it does little to expose the wonderful book within. The Proofreading Police have been kept very busy with this book. Unlike any other book the force has yet to encounter, the author has stated that iUniverse proofed the book via the company's optional service. The author is duly upset that he paid for the high-priced option, but he got a ticket anyway! The lesson here is to never buy any radar detector but an Escort or trust a corporation to do your proofreading for you. (If this topic requires further discussion of the quality of the services provided by iUniverse, I shall do so in a separate article on this blog.) The errors in The Thief Maker are no worse than those in many other iU books, but, as with the books by Lorrieann Russell and Amy Lane, the errors glare at the reader simply because the writing is so outstanding.
D. H. Schleicher has written three books previous to The Thief Maker. I have not read those books, but their reviews on Amazon and B&N are quite positive. The author himself views this fourth book as his best. The Thief Maker has earned a place among the top tier of the books reviewed here. Neither the confusing timeline, the blase cover, nor the traffic stop by the Proofreading Police is enough to keep it out of the five-star rating bracket. All three of these together cannot bring it down. The storyline, characters, and subplots are just so stinking good in The Thief Maker that I cannot help but give it my highest recommendation.
See Also: Tabitha's B&N Review
Update, 4/13/08: Finalist in the 2008 Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Books
Interview with D. H. Schleicher