Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Cherub: The Killing

Cherub: The Killing

Robert Muchamore
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2012   ISBN: 978-1416999430

James may be a secret agent who is fit and strong and has all kinds of unusual skills, but he is also a thirteen-year-old boy who has a hard time keeping his temper. James has got into trouble for getting into fights before, but when he picks on a fragile eleven-year-old on the CHERUB campus, he begins to realize that his short temper is a real problem. As a punishment he will not be going to the hostel for a summer vacation, he is suspended from missions for a month, he has to attend anger management classes, and he has to clean the mission preparation building every night for three months. The CHERUB leaders are not the only ones who punish James. His peers also make their displeasure known by ostracizing him.

   While he cleans the mission preparation room and spends his time alone, James has plenty of time to think and he comes to accept that his situation is his own fault. This does not mean that he is happy with his life at the moment. He is lonely, bored, and fed up. He therefore thrilled when an ex-CHERUB agent asks if James would be willing to go undercover for a mission. Anything has to be better than his current existence.

   James and another CHERUB agent, Dave, move into an apartment building in a rough neighborhood in London. Their mission is to befriend the younger members of the Tarasov  family and to find out how Leon Tarasov, a criminal, managed to get his pudgy hands on a very large amount of money in 2004. Try as they might, the police cannot find out where Leon got the money, though they are convinced that the money is dirty. The police have been trying to bring Tarasov down for years and it is believed that the only way they will be able to do this is by finding out how Leon got so rich so quick.

   James and Dave, pretending to be brothers, have no trouble getting close to Leon and his family. Dave gets a job working for Leon, and James makes friends with the Tarasov children. The boys start learning how Leon operates, beginning by helping the man steal an expensive car. What they don’t realize at first is that Leon is part of something big, something involving bent police officers and the death a young man.

   In this fourth Cherub title, readers will see how James is beginning to change in small but meaningful ways. He is, of course, still a teenager who is prone to doing foolish things, but he begins to appreciate that it is important for him to have some control over his emotions. He also starts to recognize that there are times when he needs to look at the big picture, times when his own needs have to be set aside for a while.