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Review: “Something Missing” by Matthew Dicks

October 15, 2010

I’ve spent this week talking about the books I read during last Saturday’s Readathon. I’ve gone in order from least favorite to most. Since this is my last review, we’ve reached my favorite Readathon read! See below for links to the rest of the week’s reviews.

My colleagues at my old bookstore job tried to tell me about Something Missing, the debut novel by Matthew Dicks. They told me over and over what it was about, how good it was. “Sounds cute,” I thought–and yet the galley I’d picked up on a whim languished on my shelf. While combing my shelves for quick, light, engaging Readathon reading, I happened across it again and figured, why not? Now I’m asking myself why the heck I waited so long!

About the Book:

Something Missing Cover

Martin, a middle-aged man with OCD tendencies, runs a thriving business. He is maintains successful relationships with many long-term clients and is constantly acquiring new ones. His work ethic is admirable, his self discipline unswerving. He’s even read Jim Collins.

So what does Martin do? He is a professional thief. But he isn’t the sort of thief that draws attention to himself. Instead, he takes only small items — some Advil, a can of tomatoes, half a bottle of laundry detergent — that will not be missed, and he takes them only after prolonged and painstaking observation. His key to success, he knows, is his unerring adherence to the rules he’s developed.

And then, one day, he breaks a rule. He manages to wriggle out of a potentially disastrous situation, but something he overhears alters his sense of purpose. As he becomes a little too involved in his clients’ lives, Martin inadvertently sets off down a one-way path that will forever change his life.

My Thoughts:

Something Missing is about a thief, but I wouldn’t call it a crime novel. It’s not a mystery at all. You know who the thief is–his name is the first word you encounter on page one. It is, instead, a novel about a guy finding his way in life. Oh, and he just happens to be a career criminal.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? What an original plot, no? But what makes this book so very wonderful is its execution. Dicks writes the way Martin thinks, with precision and extreme organization, from the level of the whole story all the way down to each individual word. I loved all of Martin’s rules and the logic behind them. I was fascinated (and a little horrified) by his processes, the casual observations he made about homeowners and how he applied these generalities to his work.

And it’s funny, too. For example, as Martin tries to get a toothbrush out of its plastic case (quote is from an ARC):

“[H]e realized with unmitigated horror that the toothbrush was still encased in its plastic container, the type of plastic designed by the communist architects who built maximum security prisons for the North Koreans.”

Yep, I know exactly what sort of package the poor guy is facing.

As you’re reading, you know you really shouldn’t like a guy who cases people’s homes extensively and then steals from them for years. The things he does, if done by any other thief, would be despicable. And yet, I couldn’t help liking Martin. I mean, the guy reads Jim Collins, for goodness sake! He’s taught me things as well, such as always use the deadbolt on the back and side doors and, if a diamond earring goes missing, don’t spend too much time looking for it. As the story progresses, you start to think maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.

From start to finish, Something Missing by Matthew Dicks was a delight. From its wildly original premise to its fascinating enigma of a main character, it pulled me in from the first page and held me riveted until the end. If you are looking for something light and fun and a little off-beat, give Something Missing a try.

Matthew Dicks also has a new book out, entitled Unexpectedly Milo. I might have to check it out!

Your Turn!

Have you read Something Missing? Do you know of other books that are similar, maybe that are about a criminal without actually being a crime novel?

———————

Readathon books I’ve reviewed so far:

And that’s all of them!

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8 Comments
  1. October 15, 2010 10:58 am

    This sounds like an interesting, entertaining and unique book! I like it when characters we should despise are likable. It reminds me of how complex people are. I’m always looking for books that are funny and quirky since they are a good break from the many serious minded dramas I often read.

    Thanks for a great review and an awesome book for my tbr list!

    Amy

    • Erin permalink*
      October 15, 2010 10:53 pm

      Amy — it sounds like you would really enjoy Something Missing! If you do end up reading it, I’ll be interested to see what you think.

  2. October 15, 2010 12:58 pm

    If the cover didn’t get me, your review certainly has! This sounds wonderful. And don’t you hate when you sit on a book that people have told you is wonderful for such a long time … only to find out that they were right?

    • Erin permalink*
      October 15, 2010 10:57 pm

      Excellent! It’s quite an enjoyable novel. And yes…I always feel silly when I disregard recommendations that end up being spot on!

  3. October 15, 2010 9:37 pm

    Many, many thanks for the review! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the book, and I’m jealous of your Read-a-thon! With a 20-month old daughter, a job teaching fifth graders, a novel in need of finishing and a job as a wedding DJ, I just don’t read enough! I’ve finished about twenty books this year, but more than half were audio books listened to on long rides from bookstore to bookstore on my latest book tour. A weekend to sit down and just read would be glorious indeed!
    Thanks again!

    • Erin permalink*
      October 15, 2010 11:02 pm

      I just moved (no job yet), I have no kids, and I have no novel in the works, so I can afford to do a Read-a-thon! I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts. I’m glad to hear there’s a third novel on its way! I love audiobooks — I listen to them while I’m driving, cleaning, cooking, walking… when you can’t sit down with a book, they’re definitely the next best thing.

      Reading Something Missing and writing a review were very much my pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. October 15, 2010 9:50 pm

    This book sounds like a light, cute book that I’ll have to keep an eye out for. Great fir a day in between more intense reads! I think it has just the slightest bit of resemblance to Sammy Keys books, those are so fun and cute! :)

    • Erin permalink*
      October 15, 2010 10:59 pm

      Exactly, great for a light reading day! I don’t know the Sammy Keys books. I’ll have to check them out!

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