Review of Caravan of Thieves by David Rich
By Tim Chamberlain
Editor’s note: Tim Chamberlain’s interview with David Rich will be on KAZI Book Review today, 12:30-12:45 p.m. CT on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, Texas. Listen live online at kazifm.org.
In a solid debut, Caravan of Thieves, David Rich delivers a tense and entertaining tale of intrigue, deception and a surprising amount of yoga.
Caravan of Thieves is a tense, action-filled tale that follows Rollie Waters, a Marine working undercover in Afghanistan that was recently brought back to the US and thrown in the brig. The fact that he was working undercover is your first clue that Rollie (our resident yoga practitioner) is not your typical Marine—he has all the skills of a con man courtesy of his mostly absent father Dan. Dan is also the reason Rollie was returned home: the government is sure Dan stole a lot of money, and Rollie is their best chance of finding him.
The story switches between Rollie’s present-day adventures, earlier events in Afghanistan, with occasional trips back to Rollie’s childhood with (and without) his father Dan. It wouldn’t be fair to give away too much more of the story, as Rich’s tale takes off quickly and rarely lets up. After going back and checking, the lulls in the action are actually longer than I thought—they just seemed short because Rich does a fine job of ratcheting up the suspense when Rollie isn’t in an action piece.
Rich easily slides into his main character—it’s almost like coming in on the middle of a series, though this is his debut. The tangential stories that he has Rollie tell do a lot to fill out the both Rollie and Dan as people. The added color gives authenticity to the tale, like it was a friend telling you a story at dinner. He also balances the funny and serious sides of things well, though Rich is slightly more on the serious side of the scale—more like Nelson DeMille than, say, Carl Hiaasen. This is not to say that he is not funny, as he has a dry wit that suits both his main character and his story, and the occasional one-liners are well worth the inclusion.
A fairly major (and unexpected) part of the book is the development of the father/son relationship between Rollie and Dan. Even when Rollie isn’t actually with his father, Dan is still always there in his head. This is another point where yoga enters the tale: Dan eventually even invades the peaceful vision Rollie focuses on as he meditates.
Outside of Rollie and Dan, we don’t really get to know any of the other characters in depth. However, I am sure we will get the chance to revisit some of these folks—as Caravan of Thieves proves, Rich is too talented to stop after his first novel.