Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book review: The Penny Thief by Crishophe Paul

Summary:
 
... and if someone was robbing a bank cent by cent without anyone realizing it ...

PARIS, Montmartre and La Défense, the ultra-modern business district with their office skyscrapers.
Henri Pichon is a quietly sharp programmer whose daily routine is altered by a fortuitous accident from which will change the fate of everyone around him.
A different crime/detective novel: a story of love, hate, greed, murder ... and a refreshing touch of black humor.
How far are you willing to go for the money? ...

 NOTE: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

At a first glance, The Penny Thief didn't sound like the incredible book it turned out to be. I didn't think it would swipe me off my feet, but it most certainly did. This was a book of many colors - romantic, thrilling and psychological elements elevated it to the place it holds. It was almost impossible for me to put it down and seeing how much I liked it, I've marked it as a 'to re-read' book.

Writing style:
From beginning to end there wasn't a single flow I could point out. The style was clever and witty. It's obvious both the author and translator are well versed, making sure that they give us readers an intricate story to plunge into.

Story line:
Told from an omnipresent, omniscient third person POV, the story of Henry Pichon is quite fascinating. Fast paced and incredibly well written, it takes us on a journey into the minds of several people.
Although there is almost no mystery left for the reader to ponder, The Penny Thief is far from boring. It's structured so that the reader is more than an observer in the lives of the characters, who, of course, don't have a clue what is actually going on.

Themes:
- The main theme Cristophe Paul addresses is greed and how it can literally turn man into a monster.
- Facing challenges with a clear head is the smart thing to do.
- Love can last for a lifetime
- Everyone gets what they deserve. In the end.

Characters:
Henri Pichon is Paul's protagonist. He only appears for one scene in the beginning, then returns to the story around the second half mark. Henri is a meticulous man. He is a genius who likes to keep his stuff in order. He handles on his own the IT affairs of French bank #1 for decades with no glitch in the system.
Henri Pichon also loves a challenge. It's a game to him to write algorithms re-routing pennies to his own bank accounts all over the globe. What's most important though is that he doesn't do it for the money. Greed is not the driving force behind it. It's the satisfaction of cracking a challenge.
Henri lives modestly. He has no family. But he holds a passionate love in his heart for a woman by the name of Tash. I really enjoyed reading his scenes because the goodness of his heart was easy to see.

If there ever was an antagonist so bent on being selfish and sinister, Pierre Gabriel was it. Except for his undying greed, his bouquet of personality traits was quite humble. He was an average computer programmer. He was selfish. He cheated on his wife. And that's merely the beginning. To top it off, he didn't hesitate to take human life.

Natasha (Tash) was a woman who didn't find herself in the right situation in the past, but at present she holds a second chance at love. A chance to change her pathetically looking future. Tired of a bleak life with Pierre Gabriel and seeing the man she's loved her teen years, Tash is determined to find happiness for herself. She is kind hearted and incredibly uninterested in money.

Jeanne Philippe Mellard was a prominent figure. Apart from being Tash's father, he's also the IT director of the bank in question. He's so close to retiring and receiving a handsome pension, it makes you wonder why he would decide to get his hands dirty instead. Of course, the explanation lies with that horrible word 'greed' again. However, wanting more lands him in quite a different place than the one he coveted.

Morgane, another prominent character to analyze. Being Mellard's lover of a long time had a lot of benefits to reap. Unfortunately, greed seemed to whisper to her as well. Good for her, she had the wits to realize that no amount of money was worth her life or freedom. She was the only character who counted herself blessed for getting of the hook.

Lambert, the private detective was quite a disappointment. One would think he'd be able to ignore the call of the green paper notes, but sadly this was not the case.

In conclusion:
The Penny Thief is a thrilling read about the corrupting power of money. It puts the reality of greed and its consequences in the light, under complete exposure. It's definitely a book one should read.

My rating is: