BookBrowse Reviews Theft by Peter Carey

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Theft

A Love Story

by Peter Carey

Theft by Peter Carey X
Theft by Peter Carey
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2007, 288 pages

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A novel about obsession, deception, and redemption - a fiendishly funny and engrossing psychological suspense story. Novel

From the book jacket: Michael—a.k.a. "Butcher"—Boone is an ex–"really famous" painter: opinionated, furious, brilliant, and now reduced to living in the remote country house of his biggest collector and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh, a damaged man of imposing physicality and childlike emotional volatility. Alone together they’ve forged a delicate and shifting equilibrium, a balance instantly destroyed when a mysterious young woman named Marlene walks out of a rainstorm and into their lives on three-inch Manolo Blahnik heels. Beautiful, smart, and ambitious, she’s also the daughter-in-law of the late great painter Jacques Liebovitz, one of Butcher’s earliest influences. She’s sweet to Hugh and falls in love with Butcher, and they reciprocate in kind. And she sets in motion a chain of events that could be the making—or the ruin—of them all.

Comment: Theft is told through the alternating points of view of the brothers—Butcher’s urbane, intelligent, caustic observations contrasting with Hugh’s bizarre, frequently poetic voice. Tall tales, straight-out lies and hoaxes are themes that run through Carey's novels, along with a tendency to mix fact and fantasy. In this case the central action is a high-stakes art heist wrapped around the tale of two brothers - the probably brilliant painter Michael Boone, who has recently been released from prison, and his psychologically damaged "idiot savant" bear-like brother.

Despite having lived in New York for 15 years, Carey once again sets his latest book, at least in part, in Australia, but we're also taken on a wild ride through Japan and New York in a novel that has received exceptional reviews from all prepublication review sources (including three starred reviews), and has been variously described as "a masterpiece", "a certifiable hoot", "edgy, irreverent, often hilariously profane", "sharply observed, well written, and acerbically witty".

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in May 2006, and has been updated for the May 2007 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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