The Sacred Art of Stealing

The Sacred Art of Stealing

Infobox Book |
name = The Sacred Art of Stealing
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = 2002 First edition
author = Christopher Brookmyre
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Satire, Crime, heist, detective, black humour
publisher = Abacus
release_date = 2003
media_type = Print (Hardback & (Paperback)
pages = 416 p. (paperback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-349-11490-0 (paperback edition)
preceded_by = A Big Boy did it and Ran Away
followed_by = Be My Enemy

"The Sacred Art of Stealing" is a satirical crime novel by the Scottish writer Christopher Brookmyre. It is the author's seventh book and is a stand alone sequel to "A Big Boy did it and Ran Away".

The book is a tale of the unusual romance between likable thief, half Scottish half Mexican, Zal Innez and D.I. Angelique de Xavia, the police officer whose job it is to catch him. Martial arts expert de Xavia is recovering from her recent experiences as told in "A Big Boy did it and Ran Away"

The book uses a blend of typical Brookmyre black humour, strong language, violence and references to literary and artistic works such as "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett.

Plot summary

The plot of "The Sacred Art of Stealing" tells the story of American Zal Innez, a witty and intellectual art-loving thief, who is being blackmailed by crime boss Alessandro Estabol to do one last major job for him.

As a warm up to their main heist (the reason why they've been sent from the US to Glasgow), Zal and his team of fellow failed artists (all named after absurdist writers and painters) rob a Glasgow bank of approaching a million pounds. During the raid they use unorthodox methods such as firing itching powder at armed police, carrying fake guns, staging plays and drawing works of art for their hostages to keep casualties to a minimum. It is during this robbery that Zal first meets and falls for Angelique de Xavia, heroine of Brookmyre's previous novel, an expert police officer who has suffered for being both a person of colour and female and who is under-appreciated by her bosses.

Both police officer and thief become painfully aware of the strong attracion between them and it's not long before a relationship is formed, despite the fact that they are both fully aware that they are on opposite sides. Zal knows Angelique is after him, and even counts on this knowledge to complete his final job, while Angelique is aware tha Zal is playing her, even though she doesn't want to contemplate what that might imply about his real feelings for her.


; Detective Inspector Angelique de Xavia : Glaswegian police officer and loyal Rangers F.C. supporter (despite the fact she is Catholic and her brother is a Celtic F.C fan) who feels isolated as a female Asian police officer. Angelique is justifiably annoyed with the attitudes of her senior colleagues who have publicly stated that her previous heroics were unjustified, despite secretly knowing that she really saved their skins. When she is held hostage by Zal, a stong connection is created between them and throughout the rest of the book she faces the difficulties of pursuing him while at the same time sympathising with his plight. Also appears in Brookmyre's other novels, "A Big Boy did it and Ran Away" and "A Snowball in Hell".

; Zal Innez : Machiavellian former artist and thief who, having deliberately been caught during a robbery he was committing for Alessandro Estobal, finds himself out of jail and working for Estobal's again. Estobal is blackmailing him by threatening to kill Zal's friend, and guardian in prison, Parnell. Zal is a likeable American, who is drawn to Glasgow because his father was Glaswegian. He combines wit with a vast literary and artistic knowledge and appreciation. Later returns in Brookmyre's novel, "A Snowball in Hell".

; Alessandro Estobal : Heir to the venerable Estobal crime family. Alsessandro is a young hothead, whose rash methods are frowned on by the rest of the organisation. Alessandro holds a grudge against Zal and his friends who rejected him when he tried to join their crowd, he then had them steal several paintings under the threat of killing Zal's father. Zal intentionally messed the job up to land in jail and as a result Alessandro killed his father. Upon Zal's release from prison Alessandro attempts to coerce him into another robbery, this time by threatening to kill Parnell, a prisoner who helped Zal toughen up both mentally and physically while behind bars.

; "American" Harry Arthur : Real name Javier Arturo, big-time American gangster and assassin who works for the Estabol family. Harry is very cynical about Alessandro, and believes that he is not up to the job of being the head of the family. As a result he questions many of Alessandro's plans, including his use of Innez, who Harry (correctly) believes cannot be trusted by them. His nickname is derived from his Mexican origins which Harry appears to be ashamed of, and his desire to put himself across as being 100% American.

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