The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

Lynn: Hang onto your slouch hat and seven-shot derringer! Caroline Lawrence trades togas for buckskins as her new Western Mysteries series gets off to a rip-snorting start in The Case of the Deadly Desperados (Penguin/Putnam, 2012). The story opens as P. K. Pinkerton inscribes the events that have brought him to be in the deepest mine shaft of the Comstock Silver Mine with three desperados closing in. It seems P. K. had come home to find his foster father dead and his foster mother breathing her last. “Fetch your medicine bag,” she tells him, “It contains your Destiny and then get out fast!” P. K. can’t read expressions or express emotions well but he hightails it out of the tiny town of Temperance for Satan’s Playground—Virginia City—with three ruthless killers hot on his trail. Half Lakota, P. K. discovers that his medicine bag contains a valuable deed left to him by his father—a railroad detective. Virginia City of 1862 was packed with eccentric characters:  Soiled Doves, miners, hurdy girls, Celestials, gamblers and, the “Devil’s Own”—lawyers! Can P. K. trust anyone but himself? How can he stake his claim and head east to Chicago to join the Pinkerton Detective Agency? After all, detecting is in his blood.

The action is non-stop, the passel of eccentric characters from Whittlin’ Walt to Poker Face Jace to Sam Clemens himself are a hoot and the historic setting is as fascinating as it is vividly drawn. (There’s great stuff here on silver mining!) Lawrence throws in some truly surprising plot twists that will have readers shouting, “Whoa” in delight as the story speeds by like a runaway stage. Smart-as-a whip P. K. is a great character and I can’t wait to meet him again in new adventures.  As for me—well, partner—like P.K., I’m done trying to read faces and moving on to feet, “the most honest part of the body.”

Cindy: Well, pard-ners. Hang on to your slouch hat, indeed! And your fedora too. If you haven’t noticed, the mystery-crazy folks at the helm of Booklist are back in their Mystery Month saddle and Bookends is joining the fun. We’ll be adding a youth mystery post every Wednesday this month, perhaps a few other surprises along the way as well…we can’t play all of our cards this first week. But we hope you will tune in…and if you love mysteries but are not regular readers of some of the other Booklistonline blogs, take a peek this month. You are surely in for some mysterious shenanigans.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence"

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  1. I am reading The Case of the Deadly Desperados right now and it is the BEST I have read in a couple of years in this genre. One might want to mention that the character P.K. has Asperger’s characteristics. His Thorn, as he calls it, involves the inability to express or read emotion in himself or others. This, along with his facts-only-ma’m verbal and thinking style will be a hit with young adult male readers!

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