The Divining Wand

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Richard Doetsch and
The Thieves of Darkness

November 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Well before gaining recognition for his clever, backward tale of The 13th Hour, Richard Doetsch had established a reputation for inspired writing with The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith — both featuring reformed thief Michael St. Pierre. And, in the author’s latest thriller, The Thieves of Darkness, this unique anti-hero returns — not necessarily to save the world — but to save those he loves.

As with any genre, there are thrillers and then there are quality thrillers of substance. And Richard’s thriller has been classified as:

“[A] masterpiece. . . . Richard Doetsch handles all the elements of a classic thriller superbly, and his characters are fleshed out and involving. He has earned his seat at the table with other A-list thriller writers.” — Booklist (Starred Review)

In his guest post, The One Thing a Writer Needs to Do Every Day, the author explained how he writes a daily story to keep the creativity flowing and when he’s ready to begin a new novel there are a lot of ideas on hand. According to the writer, The Thieves of Darkness contains five of the following one page stories:

1. A story based on Alistair Crowley’s expedition to climb Kanchenjunga and the question of what a man who was into the black arts was looking for.
2. The Piri Reis map story revolving around the fascination with this real map, housed in Topkapi Palace, that shows parts of the world in detail from 6000 B.C. long before man supposedly sailed the seas. But my story was about the other half of the sea chart, the half no one ever asks about, where was it and what did it depict?
3. A woman who worked for me left school at 6th grade to raise her younger sister when her parents were no longer capable of doing so. This gave me a story of true sacrifice, a story of a girl who has to go out and steal to raise her sister despite her own morals.
4. A story of Shambhala, and how it was both holy and evil, in balance, the concept of yin yang where one couldn’t exist without the other.
5. A story where a criminal had to break into prison to save his friend.

All of these came together to evolve into the novel and its synopsis:

An irresistible treasure, two master thieves, and a secret as old as mankind . . .

Michael St. Pierre, a reformed master thief, thinks he has left his criminal days far behind him, when he receives word that his best friend, Simon, has been locked up and sentenced to die in a brutal desert prison. Breaking into jail for the first time in his checkered career, Michael is stunned to discover that his new girlfriend, KC, is connected to Simon’s case.


With a madman on their heels, the three adventurers make their way to Istanbul in search of the mysterious artifact that landed Simon behind bars in the first place: a map containing the location of a holy place lost to the mists of time, a repository of knowledge and treasure predating Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Testing their courage and wits, Michael and his team are forced to plot a series of daring thefts that take them inside some of the city’s most celebrated (and heavily guarded) sanctums, from the imperial harem of Topkapi Palace to the tombs of the Hagia Sophia itself. More than priceless artifacts are at stake—the lives of loved ones and perhaps the fate of humanity itself hang in the balance.

A globe-trotting adventure that wings from the glittering banks of the Bosporus to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, The Thieves of Darkness confirms Richard Doetsch’s place as the modern-day master of pulse-pounding suspense.

Please click on Read an Excerpt (at Barnes&Noble’s site) for Chapter 1.

Not only is this book entertaining and enlightening, its writing is detailed, vivid, and fast-paced. In essence the reading experience is engaging and The Divining Wand wondered if that was because everything played out in Richard’s mind like a movie or does he write to create a movie? He said:

“I see it in my head as a movie. I’m not sure how other people write, but it all plays out in my mind’s eye. I usually have music going and that can really help drive the images out from somewhere deep within me.”

Now that is simply a remarkable gift and, as for his ability to present multi-layered, believable characters, Richard admits that Michael St. Pierre is based on himself. The reformed thief’s thoughts, feelings, and physical skills come from the author’s life in order to keep the character real. Still the truth is that he loves creating all the characters by observing friends/acquaintances so when he does a daily story there is usually a character in mind for the leading role.

Although Richard successfully challenged himself to write The 13th Hour in 30 days, The Thieves of Darkness — written beforehand — required six months to compose. In addition to the storyline and the characters, there is the intensive research involved. Research that made the novel 50% longer before it was edited out in favor of pacing.

Hmm, so what is the key to writing a good thriller? From his experience, the author thinks this type of book needs to have a rhythm. As he explains, “it needs to build like a song with tension growing higher and higher until release, then it needs to breath and start on that ride again. To me, characters are the most important part. If people care for and can identify with them, then the jeopardy is so much more palatable, you don’t need to threaten the world just threaten the characters people care about. When I’m in full on writing mode, my brain doesn’t stop. I’m usually plotting throughout my time away from the keyboard which my wife and kids always know by that far off look in my eyes.”

That far off look ultimately results in taking the reader to far away locations filled with mystery, suspense, and action. It’s truly an escape, a fun and refreshing change of reading pace for anyone. Of course it would be natural to suggest The Thieves of Darkness for every male on your holiday gift list and, yes, they would be thrilled (pun intended) to receive a copy. Yet what about you, don’t you deserve an escape too? Take off around the world with Michael St. Pierre and enjoy every page….as much as I did!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Richard Doetsch’s The Thieves of Darkness in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

6 Comments to “
Richard Doetsch and
The Thieves of Darkness


  1. ““I see it in my head as a movie. I’m not sure how other people write, but it all plays out in my mind’s eye. I usually have music going and that can really help drive the images out from somewhere deep within me.””

    Yep, that’s how I write too. Except not always with music. Sometimes that works, sometimes that’s distracting. (I haven’t figured out why that is, though.) But always, always, I see my story like a movie, and I am trying to figure out how to best describe what I’m watching. 🙂

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  2. I loved Richard’s post on writing a story every day. It really inspired me to build up my idea files. It’s great to see how he pulled so many ideas from his daily writing to make this novel.

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  3. Thanks for the insight into Mr. Doetsch, The 13th Hour is in my top five of all time, I can’t wait to read this one. He sounds really interesting, i now understand why I love his characters so much. The love story in the 13th Hour was so moving, I had never read a thriller where I cared for the characters so strongly.

    Thank you

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  4. I am ashamed to admit that I knew nothing of Richard Doetsch’s books. Now I do! (Clearly, I need to move beyond THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW….!)

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  5. Thank you for the chance to win:)

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  6. I’m glad to hear of another writer who sees the story in his head as a movie. I haven’t read his books, but would like to read this one. One of my all-time favorite movies features a criminal who breaks into a prison. “The Rock” with Sean Connery.

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