Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society Novel)

Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society Novel)

Ally Carter
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Hyperion, 2011   ISBN: 978-1423147954

Just a few months ago, Katerina Bishop and six friends (all of whom are teenagers) pulled off the heist of all heists. Without leaving a trace of who they were, they removed four paintings from the Henley Museum in London. What no one outside the business knows is that the paintings were not sold to the highest bidder. Instead they were returned to their proper owners.

Since then, Kat has been repossessing other works of art in Moscow, Rio, and other cities so that they can be given back to the people they rightfully belong to. Inspired by her contact with Visily Romani (a secretive individual who inspires crooks to steal for “worthy” reasons), the fifteen-year-old is finding this new form of stealing very attractive, but she is doing it alone, distancing herself from her friends and family members (all of whom are thieves of one sort or another).

Then Kat is approached by a woman who asks her to steal the Cleopatra Emerald, the largest emerald in the world that is said to be cursed because it was separated from its twin, the Antony Emerald. The woman claims that the emerald was stolen from her parents who found it in a treasure trove in Egypt many years ago. Now she wants it back, and apparently Visily Romani recommended that Kat would be the right person to pull off such a high-risk job.

Though Kat knows that Uncle Eddie does not want her take the job, Kat goes right ahead. With the help of her friends, she gets a fake emerald that her Uncle Charlie made years ago (when he and his brother Eddie tried and failed to steal the emerald), and she manages to replace the real emerald with the fake one. Then she gives the emerald to the old lady, feeling confident that this was a job well done.

However Kat does not get to enjoy her success for long. A short while after she gives the emerald to the old lady, she finds out that she was conned, by a con artist. It is a bitter pill to swallow for thief of her caliber. Soon after she makes this discovery, she is given a card with Visily Romani’s name on the front, and the words “Get it back” written on the back. Apparently,Vasiliy expects Kat to find a way to con a very skilled con artist.

Kat knows that her adversary will know all the well-known cons. The old lady probably invented a few of them. Somehow Kat and her young friends are going to have to come up with something completely new, and they are going to have to do so before the old lady sells the emerald, which she plans to do in the very near future.

Readers who enjoyed the first Heist Society book are going to enjoy this second title in the series. Every time you think you know what is going to happen next, the plot takes an unexpected turn, and you find yourself in uncharted waters where con artists duel to outdo one another by any means at their disposal. Readers will also be interested to watch how Kat’s personality develops further as she tries to figure out what she wants, and who she wants to be with.