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Billionaire's Curse, The (Archer Legacy) Hardcover – May 18, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Archer Legacy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 Aussie Gerald Archer Wilkins, 13, becomes a reluctant billionaire when he inherits his great-aunt Geraldine's fortune. In a letter, Geraldine predicts her murder and asks him to investigate it and its connection to the theft of a priceless diamond from the British Museum. Gerald dutifully visits the institution but encounters difficulties when a threatening man demands answers at knifepoint. The boy picks up the obligatory sidekicks, twins Sam and Ruby Valentine, when they rescue him. The teens move from London to the new billionaire's country estate as they identify the thieves, using a set of mystical clues. An action-packed denouement complete with rats, snakes, and booby traps uncovers the true villain in this planned trilogy. Newsome's story will appeal to fans of 39 Clues-style adventure-mysteries. While the dramatic escape scenes create a delicious urgency, the story is fairly predictable, and most readers will identify the villain quickly, despite the large cast of characters. Almost all of the twists occur when Gerald has a supernatural vision, so the plot lacks a degree of inner strength. Character development is nonexistent. The boy learns how to use a credit card and bribe taxi drivers, but his adventures instill in him no great resolve, except possibly a strong survival instinct. That said, many middle schoolers will enjoy this title without prompting, and adventure books are always in demand. Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This over-the-top first novel and series debut introduces Gerald Wilkins, an Australian youth who’s the recent heir to a fortune bequeathed to him by an English aunt he barely knew. While Gerald’s giddy, irresponsible parents use his good fortune to take a Caribbean vacation, the 12-year-old stays behind in London, facing threats connected to the recent theft of a world-renowned diamond. His attempts to piece together how his aunt’s death and the diamond are connected involves sleuthing about museums and stuffy clubs, and leads to a dastardly attempt on his life by a creepy man of overwhelming strength who smells of bleach. Luckily, twins Ruby and Sam intervene, saving the new billionaire, and the threesome become fast friends. The plot is rife with killings, suspects, ancient clues, and booby-trapped caverns straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. Newsome relies too much on far-fetched coincidences to drive her plot. Still, readers who enjoy quick-reading mysteries likely will not mind. Grades 4-6. --Karen Cruze

Product Details

  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Archer Legacy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: WaldenPond; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061944904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061944901
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Newsome (1964 - still kicking) was born in Wanganui, New Zealand and lived the first few years of his life on a small farm among the sheep and pigs. His family moved to Australia when he was two-and-a-half and generously took him along as well.

He enjoyed school but despite decent grades chose to become a journalist. He spent many years chasing police cars, ambulances and politicians. He eventually went to university and graduated with a first class honours degree in economics, which still doesn't get him decent tables at restaurants. He worked in business for a bunch of years but decided that ditching his career and becoming an author was more dignified than buying a red convertible.

His debut novel The Billionaire's Curse, which won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Literature in Australia, is the first in a trilogy and is being published in seven countries.

Richard stands six foot two in his socks and one day hopes to afford some shoes.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Billionaire's Curse is classic summer reading for kids. It's got a fun plot, a mystery to be solved, and good characters. As my 12-year old and I read it, I was continually reminded of the Hardy Boys books from the 1960's. But this one is much more current, and a lot of fun.

Gerald is a twelve year old who suddenly inherits billions of dollars, a British estate and a Caribbean island, and much more from an aunt he'd never met. Unfortunately, there's a catch: the aunt was murdered, and her dying request was that Gerald find the murderer.

The book is a classic murder mystery for kids. It has a light-hearted tone appropriate for the intended audience, and is not particularly scary, despite the theme. The plot has a few twists to it, plus a lot of discovery, which makes it fun.

This is considerably lighter reading than a Harry Potter book, more along the lines of a Percy Jackson novel. If your young reader likes Percy Jackson, but would like to tackle a classic murder mystery, this one will be a winner.
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Format: Hardcover
What a crudy book! The only thing preventing me from giving this book a one star rating instead of two is because, despite it's numerous flaws, I can see where this book would be a good selection for parents or teachers looking for a book for the male elementary school reluctant reader demographic. I think for students who have a hard time getting through books this would make a good selection but *only as a last resort*.

This book was filled with a lot of toilet humor and quite a few hurtful messages. Throughout the book people were continually being set on fire or shot to death in front of children, being shot in the butt (And may I take the time to say that Newsome has a rather weird preoccupation with people's backsides? Police officers get shot in the butt until they pass out, a girl is referred to as a "pig's arse", etc it's bizarre to say the least) and most of all the adults are made out to be the most inept, villainous creatures on the planet. If there was any obsession in this book greater than the butt one, it had to be the author's dogged refusal to portray any adult as anything other than an enemy.

Early on in the novel our bland as a cup of uncooked oatmeal protagonist Gerald is bullied in front of the whole class by his teacher. And when I say bullied, I do mean bullied. There's no way that a teacher with that kind of behavior wouldn't have been fired years ago, and yet it's just another one of the adult behaviors that Newsome just lets slide. Gerald's parents don't care for him, the butler is antagonistic, the police don't listen. Tell me what is the message supposed to be here Mr Newsome? Because the only thing I can see any child taking away from this book is this :

"Adults are useless and will never protect you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you were to outline this book it would look great on paper. It has the right combination of kids, a decent premise, action and adventure. But I just couldn't get myself at all invested in it. It had an odd tone and slightly sour feel. The hero is a bit of a jerk, the conveniently arriving sidekicks are standard issue squabbling twins, and the remaining characters just have a disagreeable feel.

The parents were selfish idiots, other adults were bumblers, and so on. It felt very mechanical and heavy-handed. I don't know if you can have a "bland adventure" or "boring action", but this book came close. It doesn't help that the plot gets more and more unbelievable and convoluted and silly as the book progresses. There wasn't any suspense or excitement or fun.

I'm disappointed that so many reviewers commend this as a book for "reluctant readers". It's as though bland books with shallow characters, undemanding and recycled plots, and unexceptional writing are some how good enough for reluctant readers but not for more advanced readers. Heck, by the time I got to the end of this I was pretty reluctant.

I don't really mean to pile on here, but there are so many books around right now that feature engaging kid protagonists and quality writing and plotting it seems that this one just doesn't measure up.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Have you checked out the books available for pre-teens lately? There aren't that many options. There are books for girls who want to be princesses, and books for pre-teens who love mythical creatures, but what about the ones who like to read mysteries? There are plenty of older books (Hardy's, Nancy Drew), but there aren't many that were written in this decade.

The Billionaire's Curse is the debut novel of author Richard Newsome, and from what I read, it is definitely not going to be the last we see of this author.

The Billionaire's Curse is the first tale in the story of Gerald Wilkins. Gerald is your average young teen from Australia, who likes to daydream a bit and who is eagerly anticipating spending his holiday with his best friend testing out his new snowboard. But right before his holiday starts, he learns from his mother that his Great-Aunt Geraldine Archer, a billionaire, has passed away. After a rushed flight in a private jet to England, where Geraldine lived, and lots of speculation about who is going to inherit her billions, Gerald is shocked to learn that not only did his mother name him Gerald (a name he dislikes) in order to suck up to his great-aunt, but that he is the recipient of his great-aunt's fortune. After his parents abandon him in England to go spend time on the yacht he recently inherited, and he's told to stay in the house for three weeks in order to stay safe, Gerald opens the package left behind for him by his great-aunt, which includes some mad money, information, and a letter telling Gerald that she was likely murdered and it is up to him to find out who did it!

Gerald learns from the letter that her murder was likely connected to the priceless Noor Jehan diamond and it's sudden disappearance.
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