The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras by J. Michael Orenduff (A Pot Thief Murder Mystery #1)

Oh what a delightful cozy mystery this was!

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras is the first book in the A Pot Thief Murder Mystery series by J. Michael Orenduff. I’ve picked it up at Netgalley since the subject intrigued me. A thief who is supposed to solve crimes and knows a bit about Pythagoras (the bane of my early school existence)! I’ve never heard of this author before and I really didn’t know what to expect. For sure not a fun, full of humor and attention grabbing book!

Hubert Schuze is a pot thief. He is also the owner of a pot shop (with no name) that doesn’t do very well at the moment. No wonder Hubert needs to supplement his income with an extra deal or two a year. Just like now, when he was approached by someone to steal from the Valle del Rio Museum a Mogollon pot, a very rare pot of which there are only two known exemplars in the world, one of them being the very pot he is asked to “liberate” from the museum.

Hubert is expert in Native American pots. He used to simply go to excavation sites and dig up a pot or two whenever he needed. Hubert knows exactly where to find the pots, even when actual archaeological groups end up empty handed.

Except for that, Hubert is also expert at creating reproductions (of course, he doesn’t like to call them ‘fakes’) and sell them in his shop.

So he is not overly surprised when he gets a request for stealing a pot. And he doesn’t even have all too many qualms about stealing it from the museum, since those are greedy companies who have way more artifacts than they’d ever need, says Hubert. He tells the visitor that he will consider his offer (afterall the monetary reward for his effort would put him in better terms with the IRS) and goes to the museum to see whether the task is at all possible.

The problem arises, however, when he is soon visited by the local police accusing him of stealing the pot (he hasn’t stolen it yet) and when a body is discovered in a hotel that he visited that very night.

Now Hubert has to not only steal the pot, but also solve the murder, lest he wants to end up in jail for something he didn’t do.

Overall the story is a fun one to follow. It is a cozy mystery that is easy to read, with a few chuckling moments that I truly enjoyed.

Hubert is not a bad guy, but he has his own ethics and he believes that what is in the Earth should not be owned by any company. Not only that, but it should be free for all to take – which he gladly does when the need arises.

He doesn’t like to read mystery novels or trash books, but stories and essays about Pythagoras are fair games, much to the chagrin of his female friend (not girlfriend) Susannah, whom he enlists in helping him with the case (and stealing the pot).

Interestingly enough it was something that he read about Pythagoras that helped him figure out who did the killing and the actual stealing of the other Mogollon pot. I really enjoyed how at the end of the book he invited everybody (including the police) to his shop, got them all to sit down and presented them the case, handing them over the criminal – a la Agatha Christie – with real proof.

The writing was well executed, with no hint of beginner flaws. I didn’t know if the author has written anything else before, but this book seemed like the work of someone who had the pen in his hands before.

Overall a very pleasant book that I finished in two sittings and was kind of sad to see end. Of course the fact that a bit of archaeology was also involved (albeit it was not an archaeological mystery per se), made it even more fun for me to read.

Will I read the second book in the series? I bet I will. The Kindle version is already purchased at Amazon and I’ll get to it as soon as I’ve finished a few ‘book review obligations’.

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  1. Sounds like a good book. I like the idea of combining archeology with mystery, something that Agatha Christie did more than once.

  2. The title is catchy with a colorful book cover. The story seems to be an entertaining and suspenseful one, based on your review which I enjoyed reading.

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