A few weeks ago Lucy Ramsey at Quercus Publishing advised me that they had just signed up Peter Spiegelman’s ‘Thick As Thieves’ for upcoming UK publication, and that Peter was coming to London, and would I like to come to the launch party?
We’ll I excitedly said, “yes damn yes!” being a huge fan of Peter’s three John March PI adventures, Black Maps , Death’s Little Helpers  and Red Cat . I have always wanted to talk to this former Wall Street Banker, as I find the John March PI Detective Series most insightful; as they peer into the dark motivations that reside in the dark heart of Manhattan. I regretted missing his launch of Akashic Books “Wall Street Noir” that he edited / published in 2007, in New York, during Thrillerfest; though Mike Stotter made the event at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookstore.
Spiegelman arrived onto the literary scene with ‘Black Maps’ which won the PWA Shamus Award in 2004 for best debut PI novel. That novel introduced his Detective John March, all set against Manhattan’s financial district. His next two books of the series ‘Death’s Little Helpers’ and ‘Red Cat’ further illustrated Spiegelman’s talent for penning white collar detective tales that explore the dark side of human nature.
So whilst chatting to Spiegelman, I was bemused why he had decided to pen a caper thriller ‘Thick As Thieves’ as opposed to continuing with his John March PI series. Spiegelman explained that he had not abandoned March, but had started a fourth novel in the series, but due to a personal tragedy, he was finding it difficult to proceed with the planned novel [at that time]; so he took a break. Being a fan of crime caper novels / films he came up with an idea that became the foil for ‘Thick as Thieves’ –
Carr—ex-CIA— is the reluctant leader of an elite crew planning a robbery of such extraordinary proportions that it will leave them set for life. Diamonds, money laundering, and extortion go into a timed-to-the-minute scheme that unfurls across South America, Miami, and Grand Cayman Island. Carr’s cohorts are seasoned pros, but they’re wound drum-tight—months before, the man who brought them together was killed in what Carr suspects was a setup. And there are other loose ends: some of the intel they’re paying for is badly inaccurate, and one of the gang—lately, Carr’s lover—may have an agenda of her own. But Carr’s biggest problems are yet to come, because few on his crew are what they seem to be, and even his own past is a lie.
In fact Spiegleman explains the genesis of ‘Thick as Thieves’ in this Q & A session –
Q: Was there a specific event or idea that gave rise to this new novel?
A: Thick as Thieves arose not so much from a specific event, but from my longstanding love of caper flicks—movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, The Anderson Tapes, The Italian Job, Topkapi, Heat, Ocean’s 11, Inside Man, Thief, The Getaway—the list goes on and on. For me, the pleasure of these stories resides in watching the crooks work—the exercise of technique, the grace under pressure—and in watching the often uneasy relationships between them as they work.
Q: Your previous novels have all been set mainly in New York City and featured detective John March. Thick as Thieves is your first departure from that series. What brought on the change?
A: I was actually in the midst of what would’ve been my fourth John March novel when I started thinking about Thick as Thieves. The March book was actually going pretty badly—progressing slowly, and not turning out to be the book I wanted it to be. I just couldn’t seem to find my way into the heart of the story, and the more I tried, the more this other idea, about a fractious crew of thieves and their reluctant leader, kept asserting itself. After a while it became hard to ignore this other tale, and I spent some time thinking about characters and settings, and making notes. It quickly became apparent that this story would be a bigger and more complicated undertaking than anything I’d tried with March—which of course made it irresistible!
Read More Here and a Sample is available Here
As the event attracted many from London’s literary community including Chris Simmons of Crimesquad, Ayo Onatade, Barry Forshaw and Jake Kerridge of The Telegraph amongst others, I thanked Peter for his time and proceeded to reminisce with Mike Stotter over our own adventures at New York’s Thrillerfest in 2007.
So before leaving I thanked Bookseller and Literary Agent David Headley for hosting the event as well as Lucy Ramsey and Nicci Praca from Quercus Publishing for their fine selection of wine, and giving Shots the opportunity to meet Peter Spiegelman on a rare trip to London.
If you’ve not read Peter Spiegelman, you’re in for a big treat if you pre-order ‘Thick as Thieves’.
Photo © 2011 Ali Karim “The Telegraph Crime Fiction Critic Jake Kerridge, Mike Stotter with Peter Spiegelman at Goldsboro Books, London”