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"Remarkable . . . Scott Lynch's first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, exports the suspense and wit of a cleverly constructed crime caper into an exotic realm of fantasy, and the result is engagingly entertaining."--The Times (London)
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Excerpt:The Don Salvara Game
LOCKE LAMORA'S RULE of thumb was this: a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim's trust forever. This time around, he planned to spend those three seconds getting strangled.
Locke was on his knees, and Calo, standing behind him, had a hemp rope coiled three times around his neck. The rough stuff looked impressive, and it would leave Locke's throat a very credible shade of red. No genuine Camorri assassin old enough to waddle in a straight line would garrote with anything but silk or wire, of course (the better to crease the victim's windpipe). Yet if Don Lorenzo Salvara could tell a fake strangling from the real thing in the blink of an eye at thirty paces, they'd badly misjudged the man they planned to rob and the whole game would be shot anyway.
"Can you see him yet? Or Bug's signal?" Locke hissed his question as lightly as he could, then made a few impressive gurgling sounds.
"No signal. No Don Salvara. Can you breathe?"
"Fine, just fine," Locke whispered, "but shake me some more. That's the convincer."
They were in the dead-end alley beside the old Temple of Fortunate Waters; the temple's prayer waterfalls could be heard gushing somewhere behind the high plaster wall. Locke clutched once again at the harmless coils of rope circling his neck and spared a glance for the horse staring at him from just a few paces away, laden down with a rich-looking cargo of merchant's packs. The poor dumb animal was Gentled; there was neither curiosity nor fear behind the milk-white shells of its unblinking eyes. It wouldn't have cared even had the strangling been real.
Precious seconds passed; the sun was high and bright in a sky scalded free of clouds, and the grime of the alley clung like wet cement to the legs of Locke's breeches. Nearby, Jean Tannen lay in the same moist muck while Galdo pretended (mostly) to kick his ribs in. He'd been merrily kicking away for at least a minute, just as long as his twin brother had supposedly been strangling Locke.
Don Salvara was supposed to pass the mouth of the alley at any second and, ideally, rush in to rescue Locke and Jean from their "assailants." At this rate, he would end up rescuing them from boredom.
"Gods," Calo whispered, bending his mouth to Locke's ear as though he might be hissing some demand, "where the hell is that damn Salvara? And where's Bug? We can't keep this shit up all day; other people do walk by the mouth of this damned alley!"
"Keep strangling me," Locke whispered. "Just think of twenty thousand full crowns and keep strangling me. I can choke all day if I have to."
Everything had gone beautifully that morning in the run-up to the game itself, even allowing for the natural prickliness of a young thief finally allowed a part in his first big score.
"Of course I know where I'm supposed to be when the action starts," Bug whined. "I've spent more time perched up on that temple roof than I did in my mother's gods-damned womb!"
Jean Tannen let his right hand trail in the warm water of the canal while he took another bite of the sour marsh apple held in his left. The forward gunwale of the flat-bottomed barge was a choice spot for relaxation in the watered-wine light of early morning, allowing all sixteen stone of Jean's frame to sprawl comfortably--keg belly, heavy arms, bandy legs, and all. The only other person (and the one doing all of the work) in the empty barge was Bug: a lanky, mop-headed twelve-year-old braced against the steering pole at the stern.
"Your mother was in an understandable hurry to get rid of...
The Lies of Locke LamoraBy: Scott Lynch