The Thieves of Manhattan

Ever start reading a book and you know right away it will be one of your new favorites and you can’t wait to share it? That happened to me when I started THE THIEVES OF MANHATTAN by Adam Langer. I was so enamored I had to broadcast it on Twitter. Almost as an afterthought I tagged Langer:

I kicked myself for not closing my quotes because I HATE making typos in Twitter (or anywhere). Then this totally awesome thing happened:


BOOM. A response! That was the moment I fell in love with Twitter.

The next day I finished the book. Langer uses literary slang throughout: golightly = slinky cocktail dress, vonnegut = cigarette, faulkner = whiskey. So I tweeted my final compliments to Langer, “capote” meaning hat:


He replied to me again:



That was the moment I got down on bended knee and asked Twitter to marry me, till 140-characters do we part.

If you’re not following your favorite authors on Twitter, I highly recommend you rectify that immediately. After all, novelists are people – totally awesome people who string words together to make cool stories – and who doesn’t appreciate a compliment? You might get lucky enough to get a response. Or two.

Besides being responsive on Twitter, Adam Langer is an awesome writer. THE THIEVES OF MANHATTAN is about Ian Minot, an aspiring writer working in a coffee shop, living off a dwindling inheritance, and dating a girl who’s out of his league. The Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, dumps him for Blade Markham, whose fake memoir is a bestseller.

Enter ex-editor Jed Roth. He solicits a jilted Ian to publish Jed’s memoirs as his own and then renounce it, allowing both to get revenge: Jed on his former employer and Ian on the world.

Thieves of Manhattan quote

THIEVES is a crime caper meets satire of the publishing world. It’s a must-read for every English major but whether or not you’re well-read you can understand Langer’s use of slang from the context. A glossary is included, just in case.

I vote we adopt Langer’s lingo into our lexicon: glasses are now officially called franzens and mischievous smiles are cheshires. Try working them in a sentence today and together we’ll get it going.

I’d have just ended this review if it weren’t for the added layer of depth to THIEVES that Langer created and first revealed on an NPR interview. There are five puzzles and clues which, when solved, add a greater level of meaning. TWO are character anagrams that give insight to their motivations. ONE is geographical and it gives insight into the protagonist’s background. TWO are oblique literary references, one classic work of literature and one modern fiction bestseller, that reveal additional layers of Ian and Anya.

Here’s a hint from Langer: “The clues have nothing to do with James Frey or Margaret B. Jones or any of the other authors of disputed works that have scandalized the publishing community.” He provides another clue in the form of an acrostic in this article, where he also promises a prize to the decoders of these puzzles. He’ll confirm if you’re correct, sign your copy of THIEVES, and might even send some other special prize if he can “find one lying around.”

I read the book without even knowing their were hidden clues and I really liked it. But knowing there is even more to this story to enjoy, I think I’ll have to put THIEVES on my very short list of books to re-read.

You might also like these reviews:
Oh No She Didn’t! by Clinton Kelly
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

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