The Honourable Thief

Written by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
Review by Christine Childs

The Honourable Thief, Anastasios’ first solo novel, draws extensively on her personal experience as an art historian and archaeologist in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Set mostly in Turkey and Greece between 1939 and 1955, this action-packed historical novel follows the adventures of discredited archaeologist, Benedict Hitchens.

It’s a classic hero’s journey with a slightly unlikely hero. Hitchens is an emotionally and ethically dubious character whose life-long passion is to prove the existence of the mythical character, Achilles. This all-encompassing quest and his part in selling dodgy antiquities, taint Hitchens’ reputation as a respected academic. Along the way he encounters love and loss and finds himself in a life and death battle with several dramatic outcomes.

The Honourable Thief is at its best in the rich descriptions of the geography and local history of the region. Anastasios’ depth and breadth of knowledge of ancient classics, antiquities and this part of the world add real value to the narrative. However, there are a few areas that detract from this otherwise gripping novel. Ben is generally an intriguingly complex character, but at times appears clichéd and two-dimensional. The graphic sex scenes in which he occasionally appears seem out of sync with the rest of the novel. The multiple switches back and forth in time and place impact on the flow of the story and build of tension.

Readers will decide for themselves how credible they find the bizarre denouement where fact merges with fiction, in an unexpected epilogue twist.