Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review! Prince of Thieves (The Town) by Chuck Hogan

Starting up a new post here people! I will be reviewing books that I have recently read (both novels and graphic novels) right here on the blog. I feel it will break up the content I usually put on the site and add a bit of diversity. Hopefully it starts up some good conversation as well.

OK, our first book is THE TOWN (previously published as PRINCE OF THIEVES) by CHUCK HOGAN. If you have no idea what the story is about, here a is a quick synopsis without spoiling anything. Our main character Doug, is a bank robber (and recovering alcoholic) who has had enough of his criminal lifestyle in a town (Charlestown, Massachusetts) that seems to suck its inhabitants under and never lets go until they drown. During the opening heist, Doug and his crew kidnap a manager at the bank and eventually let her go. We quickly learn that Doug had been tailing her prior to the robbery and doesn't seem to be able to stop even after the job is done. Long story, short, he falls for her; even though he knows he shouldn't. Lucky for him he was wearing a mask during the robbery and when he 'accidently' meets here in a laundromat  she doesn't recognize him. She soon starts to fall for him and he ironically becomes the driving force that allows her to get over the traumatic experience she went through during the bank robbery. In turn, she becomes the guiding light that makes him want to permanently change his life and leave the Town forever. However, Jem, Doug's best friend and loose cannon crew member, has other plans for our main character; One final heist. A job so big that it will set them all up for life. Can Doug continue to lie to the girl he loves? Will this final heist be his last? Will the federal agent hunting him and his crew finally catch up to them? Can he truly leave the town that has been the only world he has ever known his entire life?
          I found this novel to be a fantastic read. The pacing and character development were spot on perfect. The heist scenes were a thrill a minute ride. Personally, when reading anything, my draw to a story is character. In The Town the characters oozed 'middle to low class street wise tough guys'.  Now, I have never stepped foot in Boston but being from what seemed to feel like a similar neighborhood in Brooklyn I quickly related to the gritty, down to earth street guys that Hogan so perfectly portrays here. From their mannerisms to every word they speak, you can easily tell that Hogan was very familiar with this town and its inhabitants. The dialogue, especially between the wise cracking crew, is absolutely true to form. I feel like I have met these men growing up in my home town around Flatbush Ave. The love story, which plays a tremendous role in this story (its not just about the heists guys) seems like such an impossible scenario at first. How can this woman possibly fall for the guy that psychologically screwed her life up so badly? But Hogan excels at debunking all doubts on the matter once the two start to hit it off. The narrative really delves into Doug's thoughts and you can feel his inner turmoil throughout the book. Every time he looks at her his heart breaks a little more for what he did to her. Now, I have not yet seen the movie but from what I hear it is a damn good film. Friends of mine that have seen the movie as well as read the book have all told me that while the movie is really good, they removed a lot of scenes that were extremely key to the story in the novel. The ending as well is different from what I heard. So if you have seen the movie but have not read the book, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It will definitely be worth it. My final rating: 4 out of 5. Must read.

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