The Lies of Locke Lamora

I don’t remember exactly how I came across Scott Lynch’s name on the internet. He must have posted on a forum where I was lurking or someone mentioned his name online. You know how the internet works . . . But anyway, whatever it was I gathered from it that Scott was a writer. I followed the e-trail back to his website, where he’d posted some extracts from the book he was writing. I liked what I saw there very much. Scott REALLY was a writer. Everything he’d written (and everything he’s written since), whether fiction or blog pieces or emails, was infused with an effortless style and a ready wit. The words just flowed, the images were clear, the voices perfect, the tone nailed. Here was someone who clearly knew what he was doing. I emailed him, asked if I could ring him. We talked, he sent me some more of his novel (the novel that would become The Lies of Locke Lamora), he sent me synopses of what came next. Not only could this guy write but he’d thought this ALL through. Over the course of seven books we were going to learn everything about Locke, Scott’s wonderfully drawn con-man hero, and the world he moved in. And it was clear it was going to be a wild ride. I was sold. I leapt through the hoops one has to leap through in order to get the go-ahead to make an offer, went back to Scott and we struck a deal. Locke, slight, wry, fiendishly clever, somewhat fond of himself, sometimes arrogant, always someone you could feel for, had won the day.

Unknown writer discovered on internet, sells several novels on basis of sample material, sells film option, sells in more than 20 countries. Sounds like a dream come true. How did Scott get so damn lucky? Well, of course, Scott didn’t ‘get lucky’. His publishers did. Scott worked at his luck and worked at his talent as a writer. It’s said that hard writing makes for easy reading. If that’s true, Scott worked bloody hard. The Lies of Locke Lamora sings. The basic idea (what if the art of the con came to fantasytown?) is a very simple one. The characters are wonderfully sympathetic, the prose is clever but never tricksy, the plotting tight and twisty but never showy. Locke’s ploys and cons are labyrinthine in the extreme and his world is dark and bloody, but with Scott as your guide the whole thing is just simply FUN.

If ever a book deserved to be voted as a fan favourite then The Lies of Locke Lamora is it. People might have been voting for Scott or they might have been voting for Locke. Either way Scott’s wonderful debut novel richly deserves its Yellow Jacket. If you’re going to be reading it for the first time I really, really envy you.