If they've got any sense they'll leave the boy with Alicia Robbins.'But they didn't.They (the Juvenile Court, that is) took Gerry Lovell away from the old spinster who had taken him in ad cared for him so passionately and they had packed him off to an Approved School.Gerry had always been 'the one who was different': even as a boy he found crime only an excitement, not a moral wrong.Perhaps he could have been rescued from this but he wasn't.From the moment he entered the Approved School his way forward was mapped out: robbery and deception, crime taken like a drug, until at last, as the henchman of the underworld mogul Graham Bond, he was prepared to risk everything - the happiness of a young wife and child, a promising career, the loyalty of the old woman who had stood by him through everything - to throw them all as stake just 'for kicks'. Through a series of incidents more tense than any ordinary thriller Thief moves rapidly towards a climax of violent excitement. There is a brilliant picture of how the underworld works and there is, too, a warmth and human understanding that will make this novel remembered long after it is laid down. Rupert Croft-Cooke, of whom Sir Compton Mackenzie has said 'no contemporary novelist has offered us so many readable books' here gives yet another proof of his remarkable versatility.

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