One of Martyn V. Halm’s many gifts as a writer is his ability to get inside the mind and heart of a protagonist who ought to be unsympathetic and to make the character’s experience so compelling that the reader roots for him. Wolfgang, narrator of this suspenseful tale, is professional pickpocket. He smokes heroin. He lives in his van with a pet rat. He’s not connected to a family or close friends and that’s how he wants it. Life is safer that way. A young man on the wrong side of the law, he has to live without fully trusting anyone, and even then he never can be quite safe. Not someone most of us would identify with. And yet Halm tells his story in a way that makes the reader empathize with the tension of living on the edge and connect with those aspects of Wolf that a law-abiding citizen may fantasize about: the desire to get away with something, to take from the rich and give to oneself, to work only a few hours a day, and to answer to no one.
The gradual destruction of Wolf’s chosen way of life begins with Lilith, a young woman who wants him to teach her his trade. Something isn’t quite right about her, though he can’t figure out what it is. He also encounters the dangerous and enigmatic woman he calls Q, who occasionally hires him when she needs his subtlety and dexterity for some secretive task, and he dares not turn her down. Readers who are familiar with the Amsterdam Assassin series will feel an added layer of threat when they meet Q, though Wolf never learns her name or her occupation. Fans of Halm’s other books will know.
The story is framed within a series of short present-tense reflections after Wolf has been severely injured in an alley at night, alternating with longer past-tense flashbacks revealing how his life came to this point. This narrative pattern heightens the tension as the events that cracked his isolation and then swept him into deadly entanglements are revealed.
Recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers, suspense, strong characterization, and books that go off the beaten track.
Find buy links on the In Pocket page of the author ‘s web site.