Underneath the facade' of a heist novel lies a story about a damaged man who slowly finds himself, only to loose his tender grip on a perfect reality just as he begins to grasp it. Nat Harbin grew up, fostered by a thief, raised as one, consumed by the idea and thrill of the take. Deeper than most in the sub genre, 'The Burglar' inches towards literature by virtue of its core plot element and rationalisation of character. For Nat, the deducer, evaluator, and strategist, planning, execution and reward are drivers in a less than lawful lifestyle - this he recognises while succumbing to old adage of being a product of his environment. While the less than ideal childhood led him down the path to stolen jewels, police shootouts, death, and murder, its the steady cause for redemption and realisation of romantic notions that drives his character throughout the novel.
'The Burglar' offers a glimpse at the grim over glitter side of the profession. Herein lies broken truths and empty dreams as members of the gang turn all too quickly for monetary gain, damning false friendship in preference for saving themselves when the sirens come. Adding to a shattered criminal dynamic is a shyster in police blues who acts as the twist to each turn orchestrated by Goodis as the gang of thieves struggle to make way with their household take. The inception of the corrupt figure, a wolf in sheep's clothing, promises so much and delivers far more - a testament to Goodis' boundary-stretching noir (largely thanks to a mysterious women named Della who eases herself too easily into the frame).
Female lead Gladden is the primary reason for the novel's deception, turning heist to romance, to noir with literally qualities. Having grown up with Nat, there was always going to be some sort of complex - one that bears fruit just at the right time for the readers enjoyment.
My only real complaint with Goodis is that his male leads tend to be interchangeable, 'The Burglar', 'Dark Passage' and 'Nightfall' all have protagonists with similar if not the same voice, that aside, this was a nice read. Different to what I had perceived and rewarding all the same.