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Welcome to the world of Saloninus, the most unlikely Renaissance Man you will ever encounter. A man of many and diverse talents, he is the hero and narrator of K.J. Parker’s witty, hugely entertaining novella, The Big Score.
Saloninus is a man with two distinct professions. In idle moments, he dashes off immortal masterpieces—philosophical treatises, musical compositions, dramas of Shakespearean range and depth—that never manage to turn a profit. His primary profession—that of thief, grifter and itinerant con man—is equally unprofitable, and he spends his life in constant flight from the encroaching forces of the law.
The story opens in the aftermath of Saloninus’s own funeral, an act of self-concealment he has staged many times before. Newly risen from the dead, he encounters an old flame—a sort of archetypal femme fatale—with whom he shares a colorful—and highly illegal—history. She has a plan in mind, one that involves both of Saloninus’s skill sets: criminality and literary genius. If successful, that plan will lead to the elusive “big score” that will set them free forever. Against his better judgment, and fully aware that failure and betrayal may await him, Saloninus agrees to participate. The result is this ingenious—and very funny—tale.
The Big Score is a comic gem that shows us another side of K.J. Parker’s prodigious narrative talent. Original, ingenious, and often laugh out loud funny, it also offers a heartfelt commentary on books, art, and the comforts they provide. It is a first-rate entertainment by a gifted writer who never fails to surprise and delight. This one is just too good to miss.
From Publishers Weekly:
“Parker provides plenty of laughs as the preposterous crime plays out…”
“The Big Score sounds like a title from the golden age of sleazy paperbacks, or maybe a high-octane, low-budget action flick. In fact, it was both, and I suspect K.J. Parker either knew this or didn’t care in choosing it for the latest novella set in his hilariously corrupt version of Renaissance Europe, which has shown a remarkable consistency over the years, with its endless cast of scurrilous alchemists, rogues, scoundrels, liars, cowards, and double-crossers… Parker manages to neatly skewer both literary scholarship and literary fashion in a few lines here, and such sharp-edged asides are a good part of what keeps his fiction entertaining, along with his shamelessly corrupt characters.”