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Black Taxi

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Rosie Sinclair is just a typical teenage girl - except that her best friend is an exotic dancer and her beloved grandad is involved in just a teensy bit of crime. When he has the bad luck to get busted on the last job of his career, he turns his cell phone and the keys to his black Mercedes over to Rosie for safekeeping while he's inside.

Although Rosie has to cart around her grandad's elderly friends - the wrinklies - on their errands, she soon realizes that the Mercedes has ...

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Overview

Rosie Sinclair is just a typical teenage girl - except that her best friend is an exotic dancer and her beloved grandad is involved in just a teensy bit of crime. When he has the bad luck to get busted on the last job of his career, he turns his cell phone and the keys to his black Mercedes over to Rosie for safekeeping while he's inside.

Although Rosie has to cart around her grandad's elderly friends - the wrinklies - on their errands, she soon realizes that the Mercedes has its benefits: It helps her land dates with two of the hottest guys in town. Life is looking pretty rosy until the day she gets her first threatening call on her cell phone. A jewelry heist has gone wrong, and every crook in town thinks her grandad has something to do with a diamond ring that's missing. With his safety in jeopardy, Rosie sets out to solve the mystery. But can she find the answers before the icy voice on the other end of the phone finds her?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Paddy Larkin ("a nice crook [who] wouldn't hurt a mouse") is jailed for six months on a minor offense, his granddaughter, high school senior Rosie Sinclair, inherits his classic car. Gaining possession of the black Mercedes wins Rosie instant popularity and some romantic encounters outside of school, but there are strings attached to her new prize. While her grandfather is paying his debt to society, Rosie must provide taxi service for some of his rather eccentric friends. Then there is the matter of a stolen ring Rosie finds in the car's engine and the unidentified caller who threatens to harm Paddy if she doesn't relinquish it. Moloney's (Swashbuckler) novel begins with an intriguing premise (teenage girl-turned-chauffeur-and-sleuth) but much of the plot feels strained. Rosie's first-person narrative remains vibrant, but other characters (including best-friend Glenda, an exotic dancer by night so she can attend college by day, and Chris Meagher, a gas station attendant with a wolfish reputation) seem to serve little purpose except to help Rosie out of jams. Everything about this book is painted in bold, broad strokes. Readers may find themselves yearning for a little subtlety by the time the ring mystery is solved and loose ends are neatly tied together. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Rosie Sinclair is an average Australian small-town girl whose family happens to be involved in a few illegal activities. When her grandfather is sent to prison for six months after a jewelry store robbery, Rosie is the only family member reliable enough to take charge of his precious black Mercedes and cell phone. Rosie quickly learns that responsibility accompanies privileges. Her new cell phone constantly rings with the requests of local senior citizens (aka "the wrinkles") for rides around town. More upsetting, however, are the threatening phone calls from someone ordering her to return a missing ring. Rosie knows that the ring is nowhere in the car, but the caller threatens to hurt her grandfather if she does not find it soon. Rosie quickly enlists the help of her best friend, Glenda, an exotic dancer, and Christian, the local bad boy. They work together to discover who has the ring and get it back before something terrible happens. Throughout the book, Rosie is interested in both the rebellious Christian and sweet-natured Todd. Her refusal to commit to either one is refreshing to see in a teen character. Rosie is a person with a strong sense of self and who knows when she should just be enjoying life and having fun. Teens who liked Son of the Mob (Hyperion, 2002) will enjoy this fast-paced, witty novel about living just outside the law. It is highly recommended for public and high school libraries. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005 (orig. 2003), HarperCollins, , and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—StephanieL. Petruso
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Rosie Sinclair, 16, loves her grandfather but is aware that he's "just a little bent" and oftentimes on the wrong side of the law. So when he's arrested and jailed for a crime, she knows that the inevitable has happened. The teen inherits his Mercedes and the responsibilities the Merc entails: taxiing elderly citizens on errands. She even gets a cell phone for her troubles, and her new vehicle helps catch the eye of sweet jock Todd and bad boy Chris. Soon she starts to get calls from a cranky and dangerous-sounding scoundrel who demands that she return The Ring. Rosie doesn't know what he's talking about but realizes that she'd better figure it out before anyone gets hurt. This frothy read does not falter. Rosie's narration is quirky, smart, and funny. She's essentially an Australian teenage Stephanie Plum, as in Janet Evanovich's One for the Money (S & S, 1994). While the tone and content are appropriate for teen readers, it's important to note that Rosie's friend, Glenda, is two years older and works as an exotic dancer in order to pay for her university schooling. The two enjoy an honest, sisterly relationship and are the best-developed characters in the story. Astute readers will pin the villain but will have fun finding out the how and the why.-Sarah Couri, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From Australia comes a zippy mystery that pits a high-school senior against a ruthless millionaire. Rosie feels trapped in a dumpy, nowhere town. When her larcenous grandfather finally lands in jail, he turns over his classic black Mercedes to Rosie for safekeeping. She soon learns she has to run numerous errands for Grandpa's elderly friends, but also that a valuable stolen diamond ring may be hidden in the car. While trying to juggle relationships with two highly desirable boys, the handsome, wealthy, terminally nice Todd and the hunky, racy Chris, she eludes the minions of a serious criminal who's trying to recover the ring. Moloney keeps the story suspenseful, even including a car chase, yet develops full-blown, realistic characters, especially spunky Rosie and Grandpa's quirky friends. It's a large cut above the usual teen mystery. (Fiction. 12-14)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Australian author Moloney creates a memorable character…a fizzy, feisty heroine caught in a fast-paced and dangerous intrigue.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Australian author Moloney creates a memorable character…a fizzy, feisty heroine caught in a fast-paced and dangerous intrigue."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Australian author Moloney creates a memorable character…a fizzy, feisty heroine caught in a fast-paced and dangerous intrigue.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Australian author Moloney creates a memorable character…a fizzy, feisty heroine caught in a fast-paced and dangerous intrigue.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060559373
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/15/2005
  • Pages: 264
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

James Moloney has written many award-winning books for children, including A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove, which won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. A full-time writer, Mr. Moloney lives in Brisbane, Australia, with his wife and three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Black Taxi
By James Moloney HarperTeen Copyright © 2005 James Moloney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-055937-3


Chapter One Paddy Larkin is just a little bent. I don't mean he's one of those wrinklies you see walking along the street all doubled over like an upside down L. I mean he doesn't always stick to the straight and narrow. To put it bluntly, Patrick Larkin is a crook.

But he's a nice crook, and he wouldn't hurt a mouse. Steal the cheese from under its nose, yes, but hurt someone ... not Paddy.

He also happens to be my grandfather. He used to tease me mercilessly when I was growing up, but in ways that let me laugh along with him. Once, when I was fourteen and starting to bulge in new directions, he said, "Rosie, you've got more curves than a racetrack. Those young boys will be lining up to hold your hand soon."

I hoped they would do more than hold my hand, but I didn't tell him that.

He was smiling when he said it and he gave me a hug, a real grandfather's hug that showed he loved me.

"Any boy who breaks your heart better watch out," he added solemnly. That didn't stop them, but it was great to have a grandfather who was looking out for me.

Paddy has been more like a father than a grandfather. As for my real father, hell, I haven't seen him for ... To tell you the truth, I don't remember, and I certainly don't care. All he ever gave me was a surname. Sinclair.

It was Grandad who taught me how to drive, in his own car too, the Mercedes he loves so much, the one he bought from the funeral home when it went bust. (How a funeral home could go bankrupt when there's always people dying is something I never quite worked out.)

Actually, the way he snaffled that car says a lot about Paddy Larkin. He went to the auction of all the funeral gear just to see what was there, along with everyone else in Prestwidge-a sort of outing for the curious. There was the Mercedes-Benz, a 280S, one of those classic styles from the 1960s, and as soon as he saw it, he fell in love. "It's my one chance to have something special," he told Grandma. Perfect condition too. After all, no one's in a hurry to arrive at the cemetery, are they, so the engine was as good as new.

There were a few others taking a close look at the Merc that day so Grandad dropped a word here and there about why that funeral home had gone out of business. "Disrespect for the dead," he whispered with a knowing smile and tap on his nose, as though he knew all about it. "When the hearse was too busy to pick up a new corpse, they'd use this Mercedes, eh." He'd seen it with someone's feet sticking out the window, he told them.

There was also a pair of roof racks in the auction. Grandad spread the word that they were kept in the trunk of the Mercedes, and that when there was no room in the backseat, they'd strap a body to the top of the car. "Like a surfboard," he said, showing them his arm held rigid from elbow to fingertip. "It helped if they were already stiff, of course."

When the bidding started, no one seemed very interested in that black Mercedes. The auctioneer couldn't figure it out. Then Grandad put up his hand and the car was his. "Just business," he told me afterward. Who am I to argue? I love driving it.

I had to drive it on a Monday morning recently, to an event as sad as any funeral. We were taking Grandad to court. Despite all his clever wiles, Paddy Larkin had been arrested again. The first time he went up before a judge, years ago, the magistrate had thrown the case out because the idiot cops made a mess of the evidence. Mind you, the cops, the judge, the lawyers, and especially our family knew Grandad was guilty.

Then he got caught fair and square with three cartons of thermal underwear in the trunk of the Mercedes and another two in the backseat. Thermal underwear! You can imagine how embarrassed I was about that. This time the judge said he'd suspend the sentence since it was his first conviction.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Black Taxi by James Moloney Copyright © 2005 by James Moloney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2004

    Black Taxi

    Black Taxi features Rosie,a girl without a normal life.Her mother is a hairdresser,her Grandad just went to jail,her best friend works under the name Giselle(guess what she does for a living).Paddy left her a fine black Mercedes when he went to jail.In the glove box was his cell phone,and now a menacing voice is calling and asking for a ring that he thinks Grandad stole,old people are useing her to chauffer them around,and two hot boys are heating her love life up.A great book.

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