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Book Review: Two Crafty Criminals

Thursday, April 26, 2012
Two Crafty Criminals!: and how they were Captured by the Daring Detectives of the New Cut Gang
by Philip Pullman

5 stars: Recommended
Publication: May 8, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 256
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf BFYR (imprint of Random House Children's Books)
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Benny Kaminsky and Thunderbolt Dobney lead a rag-tag gang of neighborhood rowdies. Their territory is the New Cut on London's South Bank—a place bristling with swindlers, bookies, pickpockets, and the occasional policeman. And their aim is to solve crimes.

When counterfeit coins start showing up in their neighborhood, Thunderbolt fears his own father may be behind the crime. But his friends devise a way to trap the real culprit. Then the gang takes on the case of some stolen silver. They have just two clues—a blob of wax, and an unusually long match. But even this slippery thief is unmasked by the determined kids of the New Cut.

Filled with silly sleuthing, improbable disguises, crazy ruses, and merry mayhem, these stories are action-packed romps from one of the best storytellers ever—Philip Pullman.

This is literally a book about two criminals, as told in two different stories. And it has been a joy to read about the children of the New Cut Gang and their adventures. The two primary characters are Benny, the leader, and Thunderbolt, a smart kid nicknamed as such after he knocked down a member of another gang.

The members of the New Cut Gang have distinct, merry personalities. The key characters all take a turn at telling their part of the story as needed for the plot to move forward, and it was a pleasure getting to know all of them from Benny and his hyper-active imagination to Thunderbolt's timid nature to the twins and their cleverness.

In fact, each member of the gang is a bit too clever for their own good. They get no amusement from school and instead spend their time searching for adventure. When cases pop up that spark their interest, they will go to all lengths of trouble getting involved, solving detective cases to protect the innocent and getting mixed up in a case of "love phobia" to win a bet.

Readers of all ages will enjoy the misadventures of the New Cut Gang. While told in a different style than Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the fact remains that Pullman is a brilliant storyteller. Two Crafty Criminals has humor, odd heros, and action. I highly recommend reading it if you're looking for a fun read.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
1 comment on "Book Review: Two Crafty Criminals"
  1. This book was a fun read-I loved getting to know the kids although honestly I was confused at the beginning of the first story. Happily the second story rocked my socks off-fun times!


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