The Soul Thief begins the way all good books set in college do: with a party. And if you liked [book: The Feast of Love], you are probably prepared (read: greedily ready), to follow Nathaniel Mason for 209 pages of nothing more than early 1970s college life: drinking too much; spontaneous, aimless road trips; and the kind of sex-by-arrangement or even sex-by-proximity arrangement that can happen when you are exploring the world of newfound adulthood and your sexual boundaries simultaneously. As common as the experiences are, Charles Baxter could make the college antics of any one of us worth that much paper, but The Soul Thief aspires higher.More [book: Saul and Patsy] than The Feast of Love, The Soul Thief ruminates on darker themes. Identity and obsession become intertwined with the exploration and college-aged intellectualization of emotional motives — in effect, this is the academic experience of deconstruction applied, unwittingly and unwillingly, on the self, and in places the effect is chilling. What I won’t say is that I loved the ending, and this is a book where the ending makes or breaks your ultimate experience. But all of Charles Baxter's trademarks are here, especially in the introduction of his achingly unforgettable characters, and that is a trademark worth experiencing again.There are a slew of related novels that might help triangulate this one. [book: The Secret History] and [book: Intuition] to one side, and the ridiculous Arts and Sciences on the other. Ultimately, however, nothing is going to prevent a Charles Baxter fan from reading another Charles Baxter book. Even if you don't quite think he's the best writer of thrillers in the world, or if you feel there is something you may have missed, The Soul Thief has enough substance to leave you wondering not just how thoroughly the novel's ruse was constructed, but about all the pieces of these characters' lives that you are made, so suddenly, to miss.