The Lies Of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch—So Much Hype

Our favorite short story teller fancies himself a con artist, so I’m always searching for other fictional (even non-fictional) con artists to compare him with. Sparrow isn’t afraid of a little competition.

But all too often, I’m disappointed by the cleverness, or lack thereof, in these other conniving conners.

Case in point: The Lies Of Locke Lamora.

Why was it so disappointing? Read on to find out!

Locke Lamora—A Beacon Of Hype

From the very first paragraph, the ‘Lamora child’ is hyped up to be a true kleptomaniac: someone who compulsively loves to steal.


Other characters discuss his problem, or his gift, at great lengths. They laud his skill and his development. The author extols this kid as the best of the best.

But… is he really?

Thieving, Confidence Tricks, and other Shenanigans

Pickpocketing techniques, and especially team pickpocketing roles, have been well-defined for ages. The pickpocket is called the tool or the dip, the distraction is called the stall, and there’s often a third player called the runner who escapes with the stolen items.


Lynch utterly failed to do his research on this one. Without bothering to learn the names of these roles, he instead calls them clutchers and teasers. And he doesn’t even include runners at all.

It’s even more inexcusable when you realize that these techniques and names were clearly described in the 2015 Will Smith movie, Focus.

Similarly, even the briefest of Wikipedia searches will turn up a plethora of successful, conventional con games. Lynch didn’t bother with this research, either.

Locke Lamora is living a lie, by pretending to be a master thief.

Conclusion: Meh

There’s clearly an audience that loves the gentleman thief. It’s the audience that Sparrow himself caters to.

But if you’re going to write about a gentleman thief, you’re aiming for a high bar. Because most of us readers are skeptical of poorly explained heists and unjustified thievery. And confidence games? The author of the Sparrow books has a rule: if he can’t fool the reader, he can’t fool the characters.

Throughout The Lies Of Locke Lamora, I was utterly unconvinced of any successful shenanigans. If you try this book, I suggest you lower your standards for believable thievery.

Or instead, raise those standards, pick up the latest Sparrow fantasy, and subscribe here to get the latest news and updates about the next Sparrow trickery: An Illusion of Song and Shadow!

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