Monday, August 15, 2011
by Ally Carter
Vibrant, exciting, clever, quirky, and fun, Uncommon Criminals once again finds Katarina (Kat) Bishop deep in the world of white collar thievery. Her family, you see, has always been known as the best art thieves in the world. When a Rembrandt is rifled or a Picasso is pinched, Kat's family is likely to be the brains behind that nefarious business.
When an elderly widow contacts Kat with a strange request, Kat's interest is piqued. She will need to break into a super-secure building with the latest in CIA cameras and ex-CIA agents as security guards and steal the most infamous jewel in the world, the Cleopatra emerald--97 karats of sublime beauty, but a jewel with such perfect beauty comes with a cursed history. Everyone who has possessed it has died soon after.
Hale, Kat's best male friend and "almost" boyfriend and wealthy partner in crime is adamant; Kat cannot take this "job" without him and Gabrielle, Kat's beautiful and bewitching cousin. The three teens brainstorm and "case the joint"--which means--for all you novice crime fans--check out the security and day-to-day, minute-to-minute operations of the auction house where the emerald will arrive.
Next the teens are boarding a jet for a quick globe-trotting trip to the Alps to pick up a fake emerald from an estranged, and quite strange, even beyond eccentric, Uncle Charlie, the best art forger in all the world who just so happens to have a perfect fake of the Cleopatra gem. Back in New York, Uncle Charlie's twin brother, Uncle Eddie shows up and not only warns Kat that the Cleopatra is cursed, it is forbidden. None of this is enough to stop a determined teen-age art thief from stealing the rock and returning it to its home country of Egypt and making an old widow's wishes come true.
The Cleopatra emerald was part of a huge archeological find unearthed nearly a century ago by the parents of Constance Miller, the old woman who relates her story to Kat. The young assistant of the dig stole all the artifacts from the dig, selling them to the highest bidders world-wide with no concern for history or antiquity. The thief's grandson is among the world's richest men, one Oliver Keller, the owner of the world's largest antiquities firm. The Cleopatra stone rightfully belongs to the woman's parents, but battling the man in court for 12 long years,Mrs. Miller decided the only way to return the emerald to Egypt was to have a very gifted thief lift the stone for her and she enlists Kat and her friends.
Once the jewel is delivered, imagine Kat's dismay when she realizes she has been conned. The Constance Miller who met her and told her story of woe was an imposter! Now it's up to Kat to grab the emerald again. The adventure takes the teens to Lyon, France and Monte Carlo, Monoco in search of the scammer and a shadow ghost named Visily Romani, a figure from Kat's past who has a long history of masterful heists.
Sheer fun and suspense with a sweet little near-romance thrown in, Uncommon Criminals will please readers who like a well-planned caper. Both male and female readers will likely appreciate the fast-paced plot; girls will find Kat irresistible. Ally Carter's first book in the series, Heist Society, has been picked up by Hollywood and is in the capable hands of actress turned prolific director Drew Barrymore. Fans are in for a wild ride.
Highly, highly recommended for readers ages 12 and up who love adventure, mystery, globe-trotting, and a good crime caper.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.