by Caroline Lawrence
272 pages – a great middle grade read
The Case of the Deadly Desperados is fast-paced action combining the exciting, real, funny with interesting details that immerse you in the story and the old West from the start. The book begins: “My name is P.K. Pinkerton and before this day is over I will be dead. I am trapped down the deepest shaft of a Comstock silver mine with three desperados closing in on me. Until they find me, I have my pencil & these ledger sheets and a couple of candles. If I write small & fast, I might be able to write an account of how I came to be here. Then whoever finds my body will know the unhappy events that led to my demise. And they will also know who done it.”
P.K. Pinkerton, who dreams of one day opening a detective agency, discovers that his adoptive parents have been scalped and murdered by an axe blow. With her dying breath, Pinky’s ma tells him the killers are after his medicine bag. She tells him to get it and hide away. Of course nothing is easy. P.K. must grab and run or get caught. There isn’t much inside the medicine bag: a button from the jacket of his real father, a detective from Chicago, a flint knife from his real ma, a Lakota Indian, and a letter promising the bearer a piece of land that may, or may not, be worth staking a claim. With the killers on his trail P.K. jumps on a stagecoach bound for Virginia City. He hopes once there he can blend in and make his plan for finding his real pa’s relatives in Chicago.
On top of being chased by Whittlin’ Walt and his gang, P.K. has one other challenge to overcome. He cannot tell when another human being is telling a lie. How will he see himself safely through the streets of the city and on his way? Virginia City is a lawless place full of gamblers, hurdy girls, saloon-keepers and gunmen, all of them on the make. There are possible allies too: Sam Clemens, the new reporter for the paper, a gambler called ‘Poker Face Jace’ who knows how to tell if someone is bluffing, a derringer-packing Soiled Dove, and a Chinese photographer’s apprentice named Ping. He’ll never escape on his own, but who can he trust? You’ll have to read The Case of the Deadly Desperados to find out. You’ll be glad you did! Click here to find out more about the Carol Lawrence, her books and P.K.’s Nevada Territory.