And Then I Read: THE WHIZ MOB AND THE GRENADINE KID by Colin Meloy

Cover art by Carson Ellis.

Charlie Fisher has been around. His father is a diplomat, and Charlie travels with him. When they’re assigned to the city of Marseille on the French Riviera, Charlie is astonished one day to see a group of clever pickpockets working a crowded tourist square. One of them, Amir, even steals his monogrammed pen, but is caught by police. Charlie helps Amir, and in return, he’s invited to visit the Whiz Gang’s secret hideout, and soon allowed to join them on their pickpocketing adventures. Charlie has no local friends, and desperately wants to become one of the gang. Gradually they teach him how, even though some gang members think he can’t do it. Charlie works hard, and finally is allowed to pick pockets too. It all seems like a harmless, fun adventure until the day it becomes something quite different. That day Charlie learns he’s been carefully led into a really big con that will change everything. The only way to fix it is probably suicidal, but Charlie has to try.

In the first half of this book I kept feeling there was something wrong with the whole situation but couldn’t put my finger on it. When the penny dropped, this became an even better book, thrilling and hard to put down. I liked Meloy and Ellis’s “Wildwood” trilogy, but think the writing here is even better.

Recommended.

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