Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happiness is...a good book. (Summer Reading edition #11)

Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Pages: 287
Age Range: 13+
Published: 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: ***
Overall Grade: ***
Rating: PG-13

Katarina Bishop is trying to leave the world she's known all her life behind. Severing ties with her family she has enrolled in the elite Colgan School and is attempting to live the life of a normal teenager. But when the headmaster's car ends up on top of a fountain and she's framed for it, she finds herself expelled and wondering how a professional conman like herself couldn't find a way to lie to protect her new existence.

But once she's out she finds she has much bigger things to worry about. Someone has stolen a priceless, very private and very illegal art collection from Arturo Taccone, a powerful mobster.  He's convinced Kat's dad is responsible and thinks Kat can persuade him to return it (especially if he begins to send him Kat's fingers one at a time). Kat is sure her father's innocent but the only way to prove it is to find out who actually did steal them.

Enter W.W. Hale the Fifth, the beautiful and oh-so-wealthy playboy from Kat's past life, her gorgeously talented cousin Gabrielle, a pair of brothers distantly related to her Uncle Eddie (who has warned Kat over and over to let it go), Simon, the brilliant techy and mathematician and Nick, a stray Kat picked up (or rather got her pocket picked by) in London.  Together the teens scheme and plan and trace clues left by the mysterious Visily Romani, the moniker used by the greatest of thieves throughout the centuries and stake out the famed Henley museum where Kat's sure the paintings are hidden.

Is she right? Can this group of kids beat the world's top security systems and double cross the world's greatest thief? Can they out maneuver Interpol and the mob (both of whom are after her father)? And can she find a way to save the day and still escape back to a normal life when this is all over? Even more importantly, does she really want that normal life after all?

This is a fun twist on the Ocean's 11 type scenario with intrigue and suspense, a bit of humor and a bit of romance but it's all about the con. There were a lot of unanswered questions about what happened to her mother, a highly respected conman even in the art circles, and the details of the 'family' arrangement (I never got a good sense of who was who and how they all fit together which made it harder to get to know them and build a relationship or care about what happened to them in the end.) This is the first in a series though so I'm sure things will get tied up eventually. It's a clever romp for art aficionados and fans of shows like White Collar and The Italian Job but I didn't find it nearly as enjoyable as her Gallagher Girls series. Give that one a go if you ever need a good laugh!

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