Friday, November 09, 2007

"Thief" by Christina Chiu

From: Troublemaker and Other Saints by Christina Chiu. Berkley, 2001.

Pulling one last job to buy his girlfriend Laurel an engagement ring, professional thief Seymour breaks into the home of wealthy Hong Kong businessman Philip Sheng. Stirring Sheng and his wife from sleep, he forces Sheng to open his safe and retrieve, among other things, a necklace reportedly worth $2 million. In the course of the job, the scent of Sheng's wife gets to Seymour, staying with him him days afterward.

Meeting his fence, Seymour notices one of the pieces from the safe, a plastic ring resembling one he gave his mother before she disappeared. His fence inspects the necklace and offers $100,000, with another $100,000 to follow on final authentication.

The thought that Sheng's wife could be his mother haunts Seymour until, on the cusp of a new life with Laurel, he learns the necklace was the highest quality fake jade. Worse, Sheng's wife has given the police an excellent description of Seymour. "Got you better than if she'd been your own mother," his fence says,

A sharply detailed, deftly twisted Oedipal tale hitting all the right notes.

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