The Lies of Locke Lamora stands high on my list of favorite books. There are a number of reasons for this, and not all of it has to do with plot and characters.
After meeting Scott Lynch at GenCon 2013, I was impressed with his advice on writing, and with the rave reviews he received from other authors and editors in attendance. His book, so I was told, was clever, creative, and intense with action. The uniqueness of the characters and the promise for a book filled with action had me itching to read it.
Locke Lamora didn’t exactly disappoint me. I was simply looking for something more than the book held. Though there were several great action sequences and a number of complex plot twists, it wasn’t exactly action packed. The beginning of the book very slowly lures readers in and introduces Locke to them through a series of interesting events from Locke’s youth. It isn’t clear to the reader that these are memories from and older Locke until well into the novel. In fact, it isn’t until about 1/3 of the way into the book that the action sequences really start to pick up. By halfway through, everything you thought would happen is thrown out and the story takes a severe twist.
This twist is actually the genius of the book. Unlike most novels that contain a main story from start to finish, this one takes several unexpected turns. By the end of the story, the plot that started readers on the journey is an afterthought, almost irrelevant to the character of Locke Lamora and his best friend Jean Tannan.
What starts the book off as disorienting jumps from present to Locke’s youth quickly becomes the signature of this unique story. Scott Lynch introduces relevant pieces of Locke’s past as they relate to what is about to happen in the story by regularly switching back and forth between timelines. It’s a unique style that, once the reader is able to adapt to it, works to enhance the complexity and history of the tale. This is a style that, in such perfect form, will become a Lynch-ism.
This book deserves four stars because of the uniqueness of the characters and style, not just because of the action and plot. The only reason I neglect to give it five stars is that the skip between timelines, though it works to help readers understand the story, becomes jarring toward the end as the plot reaches the climax. There were also a few parts that were very predictable, and I admit that I was disappointed with the predictability of parts of the plot.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story with a clever main character who outwits everyone around him. It is far from traditional fantasy, and that sets it far above the competition.