How do you describe a well-written novel about an OCD thief who interferes with the lives of people from whom he steals? “Quirky” might be one word. “Hilarious” is another.
Matthew Dick’s “Something Missing” follows Martin Railsback, a criminal who plans every waking moment of his day with the utmost precision — precision that would give most military strategists a run for their money. Martin is not your everyday thief, though. He does not steal obvious and expensive items, but instead goes into the designated house of one of his “clients,” as he calls his targets, and takes just three potatoes, half a bottle of laundry detergent and some dog biscuits. What’s more is that by stealing in a meticulous, rather than a spontaneous, manner, Martin creates something akin to a relationship with the people he steals from. The pilferer checks his clients’ work and vacation schedules to see when they will not be home, and he even evaluates the contents of their closets and refrigerators. Martin knows all about these people, but they know nothing about him, and he likes to keep it that way. His mind is constantly ticking and thinking at least 10 steps before everyone else’s. He does this with the greatest attention to detail, until the day he knocks one of his clients’ toothbrushes into the toilet. Martin is a loveable and frustrating character who readers will grow to admire. I found myself not knowing whether I wanted to hug him or smack him for the stupid things he did. As a reader, I got a rare insight into the mind of such a unique character and was thoroughly glad that I did.
Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.