The Pot Thief Who Studied D.H. Lawrence By J. Michael Orenduff: Book Review/Giveaway

Jul 28, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

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.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. This book sounds intriguing.

  2. This sounds like another good Pot Thief book!

  3. I’d love to read this! It sounds good!

  4. Great seeing a new book from Mike! Great writer, great series!


  5. I find Orenduff’s “Pot Thief” books entertaining, with much detail and well-observed regional references. But, as Orenduff is from the Southwest and, apparently familiar with Pueblo pottery, it puzzles me that Orenduff has his character Hubert Schuze make copies of Native American pots, that fool “experts,” on a mechanical wheel rather than making them by hand with the techniques used by Southwestern potters. Any “expert” in Southwest pottery would be able to tell the difference between a coiled pot and thrown pot, regardless of how exact the decoration and finish. Wheel thrown pots have traces of their manufacture that remain detectable as do hand coiled pots. Decoration and applied finishes and patina would not hide how the pot was made.

    Maybe I missed an explanation of this somewhere in the books. Orenduff’s other details are good but this one seems to have missed the mark.


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