By Author / Illustrator
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Paperback / softback
Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather Jack has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections. Seeing Jack's spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home. She finds a young pickpocket, working the streets of the city. And, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.Katherine Rundell's fifth novel is a heist as never seen before - the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong.
In The Good Thieves, Vita and her mother travel to America to collect her grandfather, Jack, who has fallen on hard times. It turns out that Jack has been swindled out of his home (a castle, no less) by a shady character and Vita is determined to right this wrong. Jack tells her of a treasure hidden in the castle and Vita is convinced that, if she can find this treasure, Jack will have enough money to reclaim his home. Her problem then is how does she, a stranger in New York, manage to perform such a feat?
The answer lies in two chance encounters, one with a highly talented young pickpocket and another with two boys, one of whom has a magical way with animals and the other a gift for acrobatics. Together they form a team and make plans to break into the castle to search for Jack's treasure and put matters to right. There follows an exciting adventure, full of peril as well as acts of courage and loyalty as Vita and her friends pit their wits and assorted skills against some nasty villains, all set against a backdrop of prohibition, mafia-ridden New York.
The characters of Vita and her friends are likeable and appealing. Vita is brave and determined, Silk wants to leave her life of petty crime behind, while Arkady and Samuel desire futures that are not quite what their families have in mind for them. All put themselves in danger to help Jack and discover corruption and wrongdoing on a much larger scale than they had thought.
The adventure thunders along at a cracking pace and readers will be hooked by the author's skill in injecting excitement and suspense into the story. Her way with words produces flowing sentences full of rich vocabulary to widen the horizons of the confident young reader. The ending is just perfect with its mix of hope, optimism and wonder. Readers of Katherine Rundell's earlier books will not be disappointed.
352 pages / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+