Early Book Review: Two Crafty Criminals! by Philip Pullman

Two Crafty Criminals! and How They Were Captured by the Daring Detectives of the New Cut Gang by Philip Pullman is scheduled for release on May 8 2012.  This book consists of two stories about a group of children in London's South Cut. This rag-tag children think of themselves as detectives and come up with wild plans in order to solve crimes. In the first story Benny, Thunderbolt, and the rest of the kids take on the mystery of counterfeit coins that have been appearing. The only problem is that Thuderbot's father has been arrested, and Thunderbolt thinks he just might be guilty.

In the second story, a shy gas-lighter's romance with Daisy is the focus of the entire community and the subject of many bets. But when a collection of silver is stolen, the gang's attention is divided between helping romance along and solving the case. The gang's strange ideas, grand plans, and unexpected disguises often cause more commotion than good, but in the end the kids always find the real crafty criminals.

Two Crafty Criminals! is an action packed and hysterical romp through the back alleys of London. Benny, Thuderbolt, the twins, Sharky, and the rest of the gang are fantastic characters. they are imaginative ad cunning children, in ways I both hope and fear my own children might be when they are the same age.  The adult characters are equally well depicted, showing the greed or innocence that each part needs. The stories and characters just draw you in and do not let go, but what else do you expect from Pullman?

I recommend Two Craft Criminals! to readers that enjoy historical fiction, mysteries, and stories about independent children that often outwit the adults around them. I think that children in elementary school and middle school will enjoy this book the most, although adults that like well written children's fiction will also want to give this book a look.
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