cover image The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

Caroline Lawrence. Putnam, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-25633-2

Lawrence’s energetic, vividly written series opener begins with 12-year-old P.K. Pinkerton trapped in a mine shaft, facing certain death and recording the wild adventure that led him there. In 1862 the twice-orphaned, half-Sioux P.K. hops a stagecoach from his tiny home in the Nevada Territory for the rowdy streets of Virginia City, fleeing from the much-feared outlaw “Whittlin’ Walt,” who just scalped and murdered P.K.’s second set of parents. The outlaws are after a silver mine deed, left to P.K. and worth millions. P.K., who is wily but has almost no emotional intelligence, slowly comes to understand that he can trust no one; he adopts various disguises and picks up some street smarts from a slew of equally lively characters, including substantial cameos from Samuel Clemens and others. Lawrence (the Roman Mysteries series) easily captures the chaos and tension of the Wild West, complete with gamblers, “Soiled Doves,” and plenty of slang (defined in a glossary) and gunfire. With cliffhangers ending most of the chapters, this agile story should keep readers’ attention from first page to last. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.)