AS THE CROW FLIES tells the tale of Crow, a witty, sarcastic thief who steals your heart from the earliest pages. Truly, there are so many things to love about As the Crow Flies, that it is hard to know where to begin.
The author’s characters are neatly drawn and are given quirks and manners of speech that are unique and consistent. The reader will never forget that Crow is a thief, for if not his first, then his last thought in nearly every situation in which he finds himself, will be Crow’s consideration of what he can do to “re-arrange” the goods of others. Likewise, Tanris, a man who for years had pursued Crow to bring Crow to justice, but who is now Crow’s partner in a quest, is always the consummate law-and-order man. We get glimpses into his personal life from time to time that make him more real and more loveable as events unfold.
I note that As the Crow Flies is told in first-person. I must say that I’ve rarely read a story told from a single character’s perspective that didn’t leave me aware of that fact all the while--but Robin made it seem effortless and it was, throughout, seamless, consistent and fun!
One of the things I liked best about As the Crow Flies, was the author’s wit. Robin is quick! From the opening scene when Crow refers to the wife of the target of his intended theft in the same manner in which does her husband (“'Your turn, Darling,'" Crow says as he prepares to tie her up) to the last when Crow realizes that his scathing look at Tanris did not turn Tanris to ashes (“but rather produced a curious noise I realized was laughter”), the author kept me laughing.
All that said—here is my favorite thing about As the Crow Flies: it has to do with voice. Have you ever heard an old movie running on your television in the background and you suddenly said, “I know who that is! That’s. . .that’s. . .that’s. . . ,” and you search your memory for where it is you had heard the voice before. Or, it happened to me when I took my son to NYC some years ago. We picked up last minute tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with John Lithgow, and Leo Norbert Butz (and laughed until we were sick)! When the female lead first entered the stage and spoke, my head jerked up! The voice was so distinct. There was no mistaking who she was or where I had heard that voice before. “That’s Sherie Rene Scott!” I gasped to my son. “I didn’t know she was going to be in this! I saw her as Princess Amneris in Aida! She’s fabulous!” Well, I tell this story because voices often seem to blend in with others—but once in awhile one comes along that has a unique resonance, a startling clarity, a rhythmic musicality—or something—that makes it stand out from amongst the crowd. It is a rare thing—but now and again, an author will come along with a voice that you think you will never mistake for another. This is what Lythgoe has—voice. It comes from a choice of playful words and phrases, like “the steady rising of the sun was making my hiding place less and less ‘hidey’ by the moment,” or “eyeballs and elixers and other wizardly knickknacks,” or “careful, Crow, you fly a very fine line,” or “victims of recent precipitation,” or “there were personal belongings amongst the crowd to rearrange.” The voice is also heard in Crow’s way of naming things (Horse? Girl? Not-an-Egg?). Finally, there is unique voice in the character’s internal thoughts, such as in “at least we could enjoy spring on the return trip—flowers budding, birds singing, poison creeping inexorably through one’s system, and all of that,” or “ending my life as a snack did not come high on my list of glorious ways to die” or when referring to his new hat that had already managed to become mangled, Crow notes that “only a few short minutes in my possession and already it was achieving character.” Yes, Robin has voice—a voice I want to hear sing again.
Finally, I must say that I’ve read a fair number of indie-published works of late. This work stands out as one that any major publisher worth its salt ought to know what to do with—publish it and promote it.
Well done, Robin! Very, very well done, indeed!
Find As the Crow Flies at Amazon here and on Barnes and Noble here. Join Robin on Goodreads here. See Robin's blog here. Finally, see my review of Robin Lythgoe here.