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Literature / Thieves Like Us

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A 2006 Young Adult novel by Stephen Cole, in which a group of teenagers are led by a mysterious man named Nathan Coldheart to perform various heists that end up being based around ancient mythology of various sorts.

In other words, Indiana Jones meets Ocean's Eleven.

Each member of the group, in addition to being trained in hand-to-hand combat and other such useful skills, has their own special talent. The team starts off with Con (hypnotism specialist), Patch (lockpicking), Motti (electric system disarming), and Ty (Living Lie Detector). At the beginning of the first book, they pick up Jonas Wish, a brilliant computer hacker.

There are two further novels in the trilogy, The Aztec Code, (also published as Thieves Till We Die) (2007) and The Bloodline Cipher (2008).

Not to be confused with the 1937 crime novel by Edward Anderson, or its 1974 film adaptation by Robert Altman. Also not related to Spies Like Us.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Girl: Ty and Con can both hold their own in a fight.
  • Age Without Youth: What happens to the leader of the cult in the first book. When the group finds him, he's little more than a breathing mummy.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ty is the daughter of a Haitian man and an American journalist. Her father loved hearing her mother speak English so much, he made sure his daughter could speak it perfectly.
  • Calling Shotgun: Con, because of her Dark and Troubled Past. Not getting it makes her go catatonic for some time.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: After shooting a man who achieved Age Without Youth, the Big Bad tries to use CPR on him. Because he's so ancient, his nose comes off when she pinches it.
  • Cult: One makes an appearance in each book. The first worships a man who found a way to gain immortality and turn on the Big Bad when she inadvertently shoots him. The second plans to sacrifice Ty's New Old Flame to raise a temple and snag its treasure.
  • Dark and Troubled Past. Most of the teenagers.
    • Patch's isn't spelled out, but it apparently involves his mother being abusive and him losing an eye (it's heavily implied that his mom was the reason he has a glass one).
    • Con's parents died in a car accident when she was a child. She was in the car as well and, because she was in the back seat, she was trapped with the corpses of her parents for quite a while, until she was rescued. From there, she was sent from boarding school to boarding school by uncaring relatives, until she started scamming people through a hypnotism technique she learned.
    • Ty's mother left the family and her father tried to force her to act as her mother's replacement. She ended up becoming a drug smuggler.
  • Death by Materialism: In the second book, Honor dies when she stays behind in a collapsing temple, to steal more treasure.
  • Durable Death Trap: In both books, the group ends up going through ancient shrines/temples/dungeons/whatevers that still have perfectly functional death traps.
  • Heroic BSoD: Happens to Con, when she's forced to ride in the back seat.
  • Implied Love Interest: Motti and Con. Motti admits to loving her while she's having her Heroic BSoD, but believes she'd never be interested in a guy like him. When she wakes up, she admits she could kind of hear what was going on, and tells him that she would indeed like a guy like him. In spite of this though, the two never seem to move towards a romantic relationship.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Jonas has blue eyes that are regularly described as "undamned". They add to his image as a choir boy, emphasizing how he's the most innocent of the group.
  • Living Lie Detector: Ty. She had to develop the skill to survive, during her days as a drug smuggler.
  • Mysterious Employer: Little is ever learned about Coldheart.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Played with in regards to Nathan Coldheart. While he really does seem to care about the kids he recruits, he has more than a few morally-ambiguous moments.
  • New Old Flame: The second book introduces a guy who Ty apparently had a romantic history with while drug smuggling. While he very much wants to have her back, she clearly is over him.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever the group did in Lima, before Jonas joined. Just bringing it up is enough to make them all groan, and all we're told is that they were going after a crystal of some sort and apparently had to disguise themselves as lepers to escape (Con adds that she can't believe none of them actually lost digits in the process).
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: One of the things that attracts Ty to Jonas is how he's the most innocent and good-hearted of the group.
  • Soft Glass: Averted - in the second book, Ty escapes her captors by breaking a window and climbing out. She does get cut badly in the process, and nearly dies of blood loss before getting back to the group.