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Using 1790 London as a backdrop, Golding frames this delicious historical thriller as a play; fittingly, her heroine, Cat, has lived in the Theater Royal ever since she was abandoned in infancy and taken in by Mr. Sheridan, the Royal's owner. A prologue sets the fast pace as theater-goers riot in response to an egregiously bad production, which Cat, surreptitiously following Mr. Sheridan as he makes a getaway, realizes he has deliberately staged to provide a cover for a secret meeting with a man who passes him a valuable diamond. Readers will embrace Cat for her great heart and her spunk: she is fiercely faithful to her friends, including Pedro, a former slave boy, and Johnny, who takes Cat under his wing and whose true identity is revealed slowly. Her loyalty remains intact even when she doubts these friends' fidelity to her-a trait that leads her into an electrifying series of scrapes that will leave readers biting their nails, wondering if she can outsmart her way past trouble yet again. Happily, this novel is the first of a series; the audience can be sure of encores. Ages 10-14. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.