by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Pot Thief Who Studied D.H. Lawrence.
As Hubert “Hubie” Schuze repeatedly declares to his friends, law enforcement, and himself, Hubie is not a pot thief, as it’s impossible to steal from dirt. The pots, he believes, actually belong to the long deceased original pot throwers and not the museums and collectors who have since obtained them. As a result, Hubie has no problem reclaiming the pots and selling them from his New Mexico store to support his extended family and friends.
Hubie’s reputation is also apparently well known, and so he has no problem accepting the request of a Taos Indian to steal back the pot his great-grandfather created and was given to D.H. Lawrence. The pot is now probably being housed in the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, where Hubie has just coincidentally been asked to give a lecture on pueblo pottery (despite his alma mater having previously expelled Hubie over a disagreement with his pottery selling philosophy) His young friend Susannah, a waitress and professional graduate student, warns Hubie that according to the mysteries she reads there are no coincidences and this is all too convenient a set up.
Regardless, the pots his “client” is willing to exchange the Taos pot for is too tempting a lure for Hubie to resist, and so he and his inadvertent cohort Susannah soon find themselves in a snowed in ranch with the academia who suddenly start to drop like flies. It’s up to Hubie and Susannah to end what seems to be becoming an Agatha Christie novel before they get to what could be a final “And then there were none.”
The award-winning author has fun playing with the conventions of the mystery genre, especially the much-mentioned Lawrence Block/Bernie Rhodenbarr series. There are numerous romantic misunderstandings and failed liaisons, corrupt but helpful police detectives, and even an ending where all of the suspects are gathered for a big reveal. Hubie is an absolutely charming and delightful character, devoted to his friends and flexible on his moral standpoint. Other characters are similarly quirky yet never too over-the-top, from Hubie’s emotionally erratic girlfriend (probably soon to be ex-girlfriend), to Hubie’s store-owing neighbor Miss Gladys, who provides questionable casseroles and blushes at the mention of Lawrence’s novels.
The author brilliantly incorporates a wealth of information about pottery, D.H. Lawrence, archaeology, and New Mexico in an entertaining manner without overwhelming the reader. This fifth installment (although apparently written originally as a third and later revised) is a perfectly delightful and funny read full of engaging characters, fast dialogue, and tasty descriptions of the New Mexico culture.
Check out a review of the previous Pot Thief book & and interview with Michael right here in KRL.
To enter to win a copy of The Pot Thief Who Studied D.H. Lawrence, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Thief”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 4, 2012. U.S. residents only.