Written by: Caroline Lawrence.
Published by: Orion Children's Books.
Official synopsis: "When desperados kill a preacher and his wife in a small frontier town, their foster child P.K. is forced to go on the run. P.K. must get a valuable letter to the Recorder’s Office before anyone else can get their hands on it. It’s not easy: Virginia City in 1862 is a glorified mining camp on a barren mountain above a great vein of silver. Seething with miners below ground and hustlers above, it’s a dangerous place, full of gamblers, hurdy girls, saloon-keepers and gunmen, all of them on the make. When twelve year-old P.K. Pinkerton arrives there, homeless, penniless and hunted, things don’t look good. But armed with a Smith & Wesson seven-shooter and a knack for disguises, P.K. takes on the tricksters and desperados who are out to get him and he finds possible allies: Sam Clemens, the new reporter for the paper, a gambler called ‘Poker Face Jace’ who knows how to tell if someone is bluffing, a derringer-packing Soiled Dove, and a Chinese photographer’s apprentice called Ping.
When this book first arrived through my postbox, I read the synopsis and thought, "Ooh, this sounds good!" It's set in the days of the Cowboys and Indians. How cool." But then I thought, hmmm... it's a kids book, so will it live up the the rapturous and dangerous lifestyle that people had back then? I remembered learning about Western America in that particular time period in GCSE History and instantly worried. Hmm... But then I read it. And I needn't of worried at all! Caroline has obviously done one heck of a lot of research for this book and it really does show. The attention to even the tiniest detail is incredible. From the layout of towns back then, to the clothes they wore, the way they spoke, the way they were towards other people and even the guns they would use - in those days, EVERY body had one... - it's just breathtaking. I found myself remembering things and learning even more than I had done in those stuffy lessons all those years ago.
PK is an interesting young fellow. Half American and half Native Indian, he is fostered by the Reverand and his wife, and when they are scalped by a trio of dastardly desporados for a mystery object somewhere within the house, PK must go on the run. Soon he learns that in the world he lives in, you can never trust anyone. Just when he thinks he's made a friend, he is shocked and knocked down again, on his own he must continue to run.
The whole book is told in the form of a memoir really. It just has that sort of a feel. PK thinks he's going to be caugt, that he's going to die, so is attempting to get the whole story down in the hope that a good man will find it and bring those that killed his Foster Ma and Pa and soon himself, to justice.
I really enjoyed this and it was a great little read! Boys and girls alike will love this little beauty by the author of the Roman Mysteries series (which I loved). Maybe not those that are too young, because there are words/phrases that are quite mature, but still, I think everyone will love it.
My thanks to Nina at Orion for my copy.