I've been wanting to read this one for several years now, but never quite seemed to get around to it. Now I'm sorry I put it off. The worldbuilding here is very well done, and the characters are full of wonderful little quirks, faults, and gritty realities. Plus Lynch is the best I've ever read at crafting curses and fitting them naturally into dialogue--difficult enough to do well, but he masters it.
But that's not what really charms in this book. The core story--a band of suave, merry con men who jump in way over their heads--is beautifully unflinching. This is not to say it's a flawless book (who would want to read one of those?). There were several places where the purpose of a chapter is fulfilled, but we don't wind down for several pages. It wasn't until halfway through the book that I began to appreciate these, as they offer us further glimpses of character and the society, and all the while we really are building toward the inevitable climax. Yet even with that sense of inevitability, Lynch manages quite a few surprises.
Two final things of note that greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the book. First, Scott Lynch is really fucking funny. I laughed a lot as I made my way through. Locke is one of the better characters I've read in years, and his sense of humor is a large part of that. The other reason was that I listened to the audiobook, beautifully narrated by Michael Page. If you can, listen to him read the book to you. He's fantastic.
I cannot recommend this title highly enough. I'm very eagerly looking forward to the second volume, which I'll be listening to again, once again narrated by Michael Page.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch.