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The Case of the Deadly Desperados (P.K. Pinkerton Series #1)

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Introducing P.K. Pinkerton, Master of Disguise

When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run and is forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . ...

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P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados (P.K. Pinkerton Series #1)

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Introducing P.K. Pinkerton, Master of Disguise

When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run and is forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . . .

Narrated by the incredibly lively Pinky, this thrilling high-speed chase through the Wild West will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

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  • The Case of the Deadly Desperados
    The Case of the Deadly Desperados  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
The New York Times Book Review
 ". . . it's clear P.K. has what today we would call Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism. Brilliant, touch-averse and reclusive, he 'cannot express emotions easily. Nor read them neither.' But he is endowed with 'keen observation skills' and an excellent memory. The autism conceit also reveals Lawrence's influences, most notably, Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . . . P.K.'s journey is very much a metaphor for an autistic experience. Lawrence powerfully conveys both the difficulties of living with autism and the autistic mind's distinctive strengths. Any child who's felt like a 'Misfit' or 'Freak of Nature' as P.K. does will identify with his despair and cheer him."
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Twelve-year-old P.K. Pinkerton is on the run after discovering his foster parents murdered and scalped in their cabin. He quickly realizes the dastardly deed was done by none other than "Whittlin Walt" and his two henchmen, among the most feared criminals in and around Virginia City in 1862. They now are pursuing him, seeking a piece of paper that could make them very rich. P.K. is half Sioux and half white and quick to admit being plagued by his "Thorn:" his inability to read people's expressions or show emotion himself and his aversion to being touched. He narrowly escapes the criminals in his small town of Temperance and sneaks onto a stagecoach headed for Virginia City. There he discovers a lawless place, full of smoky saloons, hurdy girls and "soiled doves," Celestials, opium dens, gamblers, and of course miners. Shots ring out day and night and P.K. comes to realize it's a place where "people want to kiss you or kill you." Numerous betrayals, adventures and misadventures carry this fast-paced tale along, but there is more than adventure here as P.K. gradually begins to learn how to read people and use his extraordinary calculation skills and his ability to remember things to his advantage. P.K. himself tells the story by writing it down on ledger pages he finds while trapped in a silver mine, awaiting his death. His matter-of-fact retelling of events is filled with dry humor. Lawrence has included many historical facts and even real people (Sam Clemens makes a few appearances!) in this well-researched historical novel. Her vivid descriptions of the place and the people bring them alive and make the reader care very much for young P.K. as he fights for truth and justice and a chance to be a detective, like his father and uncle. The first in Lawrence's "Western Mysteries" series will have readers clamoring for a quick sequel to follow. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
VOYA - Ursula Adams
The Case of the Deadly Desperados is a first-person narrative of P. K. Pinkerton. Twelve-year-old P. K. recounts his/her (the gender is never clearly revealed) adventures through writing on ledger paper. The setting of 1862 Virginia City, Nevada, provides the perfect backdrop to the wild adventures. P. K. is an orphan who on his/her twelfth birthday experiences the shooting death of his/her foster parents. P. K. flees the scene in possession of a deed that will grant him/her a large area of land. Because of this, P. K. is on the run from Whittlin' Walt and his gang. While assuming various disguises to evade Walt, P. K. encounters an interesting variety of people in the Wild West. He/she meets a Soiled Dove (prostitute), spends time in an opium den, and learns to read nonverbal cues from poker players. The book is quick paced and engaging, moving from one escapade to the next without ever slowing down. Although not presented in expansive detail, the allusions to prostitution, the opium den, and the killing of P. K.'s foster parents at the book's start all suggest that this book should not be read by the youngest of readers. Overall, Lawrence has written a gripping book that leads its way nicely in becoming part of a larger series. Reviewer: Ursula Adams
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—In 1862, 12-year-old P. K. Pinkerton discovers his foster parents murdered in their cabin. He feels no grief, apparently because he is autistic. The killer is ruthless desperado Whittlin Walt, who then pursues P. K. for his valuable mine claim. The boy flees to lawless Virginia City, Nevada Territory, to register his document. There he meets many motley citizens of the Wild West town: Belle Donne, a Soiled Dove who robs him; Samuel Clemens, a newspaperman who quotes Mark Twain; Grafton T. Brown, an African American artist; "Chinamen"; and Jace, a cardsharp who teaches grateful P. K. to decipher body language. The denouement takes place in a mine shaft amid a startling revelation. This book is more an adventure story than a mystery. While it contains appealing elements and an intriguing premise, it seems flat at times because P. K. does not comprehend emotion. His oblique references to that fact may confuse readers. Numerous characters and scenarios have him bouncing from saloon to shop without much connection. The biggest concern, however, is audience. Descriptions of prostitutes and desire, while not detailed, indicate older readers. P. K.'s age and innocent manner suggest an elementary audience, but the mature concepts make that problematic. Middle schoolers may wish to try Jean Ferris's Much Ado About Grubstake (Harcourt, 2006).—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old P.K. "Pinky" Pinkerton was born with a poker face--he can't show or read emotion--but it's not until he lands in Nevada Territory's silver-mining country that he comes to terms with the hand he's dealt. This fast-paced and deadpan-funny Wild West adventure is Pinky's first-person account, scrawled out as "last words" on ledger sheets in a mine shaft while three desperados hunt him down. These outlaws, seeking something valuable Pinky's Sioux ma had left behind, murdered his foster parents. Pinky narrowly escapes, jumping a stage to "Satan's Playground," or Virginia City of 1862, with its colorful mix of greedy gunslingers, "Celestials," "Soiled Doves" and even Sam Clemens with the occasional jarring witticism. Best of all, he runs into Poker Face Jace who teaches him how to read people's feet, "the most honest part of a man's body." Pinky is likable. A wannabe detective, he's resourceful and smart, gutsy but not foolhardy…and partial to black coffee. Jace's detailed lessons in human "tells" drag on a smidge, but readers will fully grasp how thirsty Pinky is for this information that's more precious to him than silver. Wonderfully dry humor, vivid sensory descriptions of the mountain town and a genuinely appealing protagonist make this a stand-out. A rich vein of wisdom runs through this highly entertaining, swashbuckling series debut. (1862 map of Virginia City, glossary) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
Priscilla Gilman
Lawrence's framework makes for a curious, clever and very funny kind of unreliable narration. A preternaturally calm and serious narrator tells an exceptionally lively story. A recluse who hates novelty is deluged with it…I'm sure my action-loving 9-year-old, as well as my autistic 12-year-old, will love this buoyant story as it hurtles to a thrilling conclusion while being both moving and morally unsentimental. If, as P. K.'s foster mother puts it, "a Detective is someone who uncovers the Truth & brings Justice," then Lawrence, in doing a very modern justice to this 19th-century misfit, is being the kind of detective all good authors can be.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399256332
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/16/2012
  • Series: P.K. Pinkerton Series , #1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 494,558
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Lawrence is an English-American author who was born in London and grew up in Bakersfield, California. She currently lives in London, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013


    I have only read the first part of it and it was so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Great book!

    I thought this was a very good book. It took place in the 1860's in the wild west of Nevada. This book was full of twists and the plot was one that kept me going through the whole book. I couldn't put it down. I would reccomend this book to everyone!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2014

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