Thief: A Robin Monarch Novel
Mark Sullivan has created a somewhat unique antihero in Robin Monarch, a thief-for-hire with illegal methods and pure motives. Monarch uses the proceeds of his somewhat ill-gotten gain to good end (see below) in order to pay a longstanding debt that, in his mind, can never be fully compensated. Sullivan utilizes exotic settings, hair-raising escapes, and reliance on cutting-edge technology (you will wish you had his toys) to present a reliably exciting series that always delivers more than it promises. In THIEF, the third of these books and the best to date, a job backfires on the likable thief, setting off a chain of events that resound across the world and threaten to unleash a powerful secret.
"Sullivan infuses enough unique elements into his characters and stories to make both of them intriguing and eminently readable. The narrative flows nicely and quickly, tugging the reader through exotic settings and dangerous situations."
The plot that drives THIEF is a bit more straightforward and less complex than has been the case in previous Monarch outings, which works just fine here. Monarch is in full Robin Hood mode as he crashes a Christmas party at the home of a somewhat shady investor named Beau Arsenault, who uses the influence he has acquired as a political player to add to his already astronomical bank fortune. Monarch infiltrates Arsenault’s palatial estate and makes off with a fortune in bearer bonds. His intent is to provide financing to the orphanage run by Sister Rachel Diego del Mar, the nun who saved his life years before when he was a 12-year-old orphan running with a notorious street gang in one of the worst slums of Buenos Aires.
The amount of Monarch’s theft --- a few million dollars --- is a hit that Arsenault can easily take, but he is not about to do so, no matter how pure Monarch’s motives may be. And Monarch does not make a clean getaway from the heist, either. Despite being successful in obtaining the bonds, he leaves the scene of the crime seriously wounded and winds up under Sister Rachel’s care yet again, though bearing gifts of a substantial nature. Arsenault tracks Monarch back to the orphanage, hitting Monarch where it hurts him most. Rather than take his revenge out on Monarch personally, he instead abducts Sister Rachel from the orphanage and holds her hostage. His ransom demand requires Monarch to infiltrate and steal some research that a trio of scientists have been gathering concerning an ancient legend based deep in the jungles of South America. If what is rumored is true, the scientists will unlock the key to a perplexing mystery of life that will change the lives of nearly everyone on Earth.
Monarch wants to rescue Sister Rachel in the worst way, but is sorely disinclined to give Arsenault the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, to get her back. Accordingly, the overriding plot centers on whether or not Monarch can assist the scientists in their quest and keep the results away from Arsenault while retrieving Sister Rachel. It’s an all-but-impossible task, but bet on Monarch.
Monarch is an archetypal hero, but Sullivan infuses enough unique elements into his characters and stories to make both of them intriguing and eminently readable. The narrative flows nicely and quickly, tugging the reader through exotic settings and dangerous situations. Once you start a journey with Monarch, it’s hard to stop, and one is always sorry to see the ending come around. Which reminds me, THIEF has a terrific conclusion, demonstrating that Monarch has his priorities right. Enjoy.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 19, 2014