House of Thieves Excerpt and Sweepstakes

To pay off his son’s gambling debts, a society architect in 1886 New York is forced to join a criminal gang and plan robberies of the buildings he’s designed.

I’m thrilled to announce Belfoure’s sophomore novel, HOUSE OF THIEVES (ON-SALE: September 15; 978192617891; $25.99; Hardcover), a major release coming from Sourcebooks Landmark in September 2015.

John Cross needs money, and he needs it fast—and New York City’s most dangerous kingpin insists that robbing John’s rich circle of friends is the only way John can pay off his substantial debt. John’s talent as an architect provides him with access and opportunity—if he can just keep his secret life from his family, he can end this very quickly. But John didn’t count on the thrill that came from engineering the perfect steal… or that his wife and children would possess the same talents.

The inspiration for House of Thieves came from a historical figure in the 1870s named George Leslie who came from a wealthy Midwest family to practice architecture in NYC but gave it up because he preferred to be a criminal planning bank robberies. Additionally, as a young architect Charles unwittingly took on a job designing an addition to a house owned by a Mafia boss; he was murdered by his crew a couple weeks after the project was finished.

House of Thieves is a fascinating look at the two poles of New York society in the late 19th century, from the extreme opulence of the Knickerbocker society to the opium dens and whorehouses of the criminal underworld. It also presents an exciting new twist on the intriguing architecture angle that drew readers to The Paris Architect.

Excerpt from House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure (on-sale September 15)

“Let me explain how our business arrangement will work,” Kent said, setting down his teacup. “You will choose buildings you’ve designed that contain articles of great value—-cash, stock certificates, gold, merchandise such as expensive clothing, fine linen, silverware, and jewelry. You will help me plan each robbery by giving me drawings of these places and telling me where items worth stealing can be found. And after each robbery, the value of the goods will be deducted from George’s debt.”
“Promise me that, once it’s paid back, I’m free of this.”

“Why of course. I don’t think you’re cut out for a life of crime, Mr. Cross.” Kent gave him a wink. “But you are a talented architect. That Chandler Building—-and those tall arches! I envy your talent. I wish I could do something like that.”

Cross was silent. Coming from this merciless bastard, it hardly felt like a compliment.
“The next step will be for you to take some time—-one week, say—-to choose a building. Then we will meet to discuss whether your plan is feasible. It takes a criminal eye to evaluate these things,” Kent said. “You’ll want to pay off the debt immediately, of course. But for our first effort, let’s choose something modest. And bring copies of the drawings. I understand that with the new blueprinting process, it will be easy for you.”

Kent was sharp. Only a few years ago, copies of architectural drawings had to be traced over by hand, a long and tedious process. But with the introduction of blueprinting, all that had changed. Now, a photosensitive coating could be applied to a sheet of paper, which would be placed behind the original linen drawing. The contraption was put in a wood frame that sat out in the sun, developing a perfect image on the paper like a photograph.

“Yes,” Cross said, nodding. “I can bring you your own copies of
the drawings.”

“From now on, it’s better to meet elsewhere. You’ll be told where to go and when.” Kent rose from his chair. The meeting was over. “Please don’t think me rude, but I have a Presbyterian Hospital board meeting in an hour over on East Seventy--Second,” Kent said apologetically as he escorted Cross to the foyer. “But before you go, you must see my latest treasure.”

He led Cross to a large oak table with carved legs and removed a heavy sheet of paper, revealing what looked like a very old, yellowed parchment.

“An early eighth--century illuminated manuscript from France. Isn’t it magnificent?”
Though Cross didn’t give a damn, he pretended to be impressed out of courtesy. After taking a respectful amount of time to examine the gold--leaf--flecked pages, he nodded and walked toward the library doors.

“Henceforth, Mr. Cross, you must learn to think like a criminal. Coming from your background, that may be difficult,” Kent said as he slid open the paneled doors.

“It didn’t seem to be an obstacle for you.”

Kent gave a roar of laughter. “I suppose Griffith told you all about me. True, Princeton didn’t give me much training for my line of work. You’re a Harvard man?”

Cross nodded.
“A satisfactory school, but they have no eating clubs, unlike Princeton. So uncivilized,” he said. “Do take a look around the building before you go. You’ll find it most interesting.”

“I walked through right before it opened. The architect, Henry Hardenbergh, is a friend of mine. It’s a remarkable building,” Cross said softly, looking up at the ceiling. “The best apartment building in the city. I wish I had done it.”

Belfoure’s sly, roguish writing opens a window to those living both gilded and tarnished lives…

Best of all, Belfoure holds together each and every thread of the novel, resulting in a most memorable, evocative read.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Belfoure displays a brisk prose style, well-developed plot, and interesting architectural details… a roisterous, supremely entertaining adventure.”—Booklist, STARRED review

“Charles Belfoure sees New York's Gilded Age with an architect's eye and evokes the atmosphere wonderfully… Belfoure leads us on a splendid page-turner as a respectable family discovers its criminal side in old New York.”—Edward Rutherfurd, New York Times bestselling author of Paris: The Novel and New York: The Novel

“Charles Belfoure stocks House of Thieves with authentic architectural and historical grace notes. Of course he does! But he never loses sight of the story, which rockets along at full-speed from one breathtaking scene to the next. I couldn’t put House of Thieves down.”—Alex Grecian, national bestselling author of The Yard and Harvest Man

Charles Belfoure’s debut novel, The Paris Architect (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2013), was a national bestseller, an indie next pick, a national reading group month select, and received stellar praise from booksellers, librarians, authors and critics.

Sourcebooks is running a sweepstakes (ends September 30)! All of the details can be found here:


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