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P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados Paperback – March 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


“I’m sure my action-loving 9-year-old, as well as my autistic 12-year-old, will love this buoyant story as it hurtles to a thrilling conclusion while being both moving and morally unsentimental. If, as P.K.’s foster mother puts it, ‘a Detective is someone who uncovers the Truth & brings Justice’ then Lawrence…is being the kind of detective all good authors can be."--New York Times Book Review

"A rich vein of wisdom runs through this highly entertaining, swashbuckling series debut.”—Kirkus, starred review

"A winning blend of Wild West and classic detective lore, this first book in the Western Mysteries series is a fast-paced, engrossing read, from beginning to end."--Booklist, starred review


“ …this agile story should keep readers’ attention from first page to last.”--Publishers Weekly

Book Description

Introducing P.K. Pinkerton, Master of Disguise

When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run. He's forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . . .

Narrated by the incredibly lively Pinky, this thrilling high-speed chase through the Wild West will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0750 (What's this?)
  • Series: P.K. Pinkerton (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (March 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142423815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142423813
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Million-selling author Caroline Lawrence writes detective stories with the double aim of entertaining children and teaching them. Combining fast-moving plots with historical accuracy means her history mystery stories are beloved of children, parents and teachers.

In 2009, Caroline won the Classical Association Prize for her Roman Mysteries series, which comprises over 20 books and inspired a glossy BBC TV series in the UK.

In 2011 Caroline launched a second historical detective series, the Western Mysteries, staring P.K. Pinkerton: a 12-year-old doubly orphaned detective who has trouble "reading people". The Case of the Deadly Desperados was the Sunday New York Times Editors' Choice in February 2012.

"I want to know everything about the past, especially the exciting things. Also the sounds, smells, sights and tastes. I write historical novels because nobody has invented a Time Machine. And I write for kids because 11 is my inner age."

Caroline is also writing a spin-off series of Roman books for readers aged 7+, starting with
The Sewer Demon

Here are the Roman Mystery novels in series order:

The Thieves Of Ostia: The Roman Mysteries 1
The Secrets Of Vesuvius: The Roman Mysteries 2
The Pirates Of Pompeii: The Roman Mysteries 3
The Assassins Of Rome: The Roman Mysteries 4
The Dolphins Of Laurentum: The Roman Mysteries 5
The Twelve Tasks Of Flavia Gemina:The Roman Mysteries 6
The Enemies Of Jupiter: The Roman Mysteries 7
The Gladiators From Capua: The Roman Mysteries 8
The Colossus Of Rhodes: The Roman Mysteries 9
The Fugitive From Corinth: The Roman Mysteries 10
The Sirens Of Surrentum: The Roman Mysteries 11
The Charioteer Of Delphi: The Roman Mysteries 12
The Slave-Girl From Jerusalem: The Roman Mysteries 13
The Beggar Of Volubilis: The Roman Mysteries 14
The Scribes From Alexandria: The Roman Mysteries 15
The Prophet From Ephesus: The Roman Mysteries 16
The Man From Pomegranate Street: The Roman Mysteries 17

Here are the mini-mysteries:

The Legionary From Londinium And Other Mini-Mysteries
Trimalchio's Feast And Other Mini-Mysteries

Plus quiz books, omnibus editions, a travel book and a treasury:

The First Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Second Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 1-3) (B) (Feb)
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 4-6) (B)
From Ostia To Alexandria With Flavia Gemina
The Roman Mysteries Treasury

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jay Jay on February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's September, 1862. Why does Whittlin Walt want to kill a twelve-year-old, twice orphaned kid in Virginia City, Nevada? That's the first mystery in the new Western Mysteries children's series by Caroline Lawrence. Her previous Roman Mysteries series took place in the ancient world, but they didn't have guns back then and P.K. Pinkerton is staring down the four-inch barrel of a Smith and Wesson number 1 seven-shooter.

So if you want to know why P.K. Pinkerton is going to be killed on September 28, 1862, you need to read The Case of the Deadly Desperadoes. Along the way, you are going to be treated to some things author and historian Caroline Lawrence describes so well. You'll find out what it is like to ride on slippery top of a stage coach, gamble with professionals in a saloon, go inside a Chinese laundry, prowl the streets and back alleys of a lawless town, and meet people who are just as desperate and deadly as the desperadoes out to kill P.K. Caroline writes so you feel you are there...without gore, but without a lot of sugar coating either.

In P.K. Pinkerton, you find a likable kid. He can read, write, and do sums. He can ride a horse with or without a saddle, shoot a gun, skin game, spark a fire, and tell what a horse has eaten by the smell of the manure. P.K. has all the important skills a civilized kid in the 1860's should have. He's honest and principled.

But P.K. also has a major flaw, or as he calls it, 'his Thorn'. He has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition that makes it difficult for people in social situations. For P.K., it means he can't read people's true intentions. He doesn't understand what might be behind a person's smile and so he has trust issues and confidence issues.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca McTee on December 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book with a group of 12 year old boys as part of guided reading time. I strongly recommend that this book is only given to much older students. One of the main characters is a prostitute, and there are frank discussions about what she does for a living. There is a scene where P.K. Runs through a hotel room where a man and woman are "bouncing up and down on the bed". The "soiled dove" (prostitute) is called a "filthy whore" by another character. Also many uses of mild swear words but still too much for age 10 as the book recommends.
My biggest complaint with the book however, is the boring and repetitive plot that is filled with far too much description of the town and not nearly enough information about the characters. About one third of the chapters did nothing to move the story forward. I stopped reading the book with the students and finished it myself to tell them what happened. They were relieved to be done with it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arianne Laidlaw on February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you'd be interested in knowing how Virginia City sounded, smelled, and looked when Mark Twain was there in the 1860s, read Caroline Lawrence's new book, _The Case of the Deadly Desperados_. She has a talent for bringing vividly to life the place (above AND below ground) and the odd assortment of people in it .

Sam Clemens turns up on his first day at the Territorial Enterprise. Some of his lines are familiar and he fits right into the story line, including one scene where he manages to disappear when a fight starts in a saloon.

Joe Goodman and Dan DeQuille also have
guest appearances, all neatly woven into a fast paced adventure about an unusual but resourceful youngster being pursued by truly menacing outlaws .

There are some surprising insights about poker games, opium dens and body language which are only part of the useful information included in this tale. Sometimes scary, It's still a romp.

My local library already owns the English publication of the work, along with all of her earlier 17 volume series. _The Roman Mysteries_. The US version of her new venture into our West has already been given a positive reception by Booklist. Kirkus and Amazon (where it is a book of the month!) It was warmly reviewed in the New York Times Feb 12.

Written for the juvenile market, it was completely delightful for this adult. I recommend buying it for some young person in your life, but reading it before you hand it over. This is the first of a new series. Her first, Roman Mysteries, taking place in ancient Rome, ended up as a TV series in England. The story line in this one could make a movie!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Case of the Deadly Desperadoes is a phenomenal book! This book has a famous person in it, but I'm not going to tell you, you'll have to find out about reading the book. If you don't read this book well bad luck because you'll think reading is boring!

This all happened in 1862, so it's about 150 years ago. It was mostly in Virginia City. This boy called P.K. Pinkerton (the main character) is getting chased by three desperadoes and they're deadly. They're the most feared desperadoes in Virginia.

It all started in Temperance. It was P.K.'s twelfth birthday, and two important people to him died that day, and he almost died two days later as well!

This is an amazing book with all the action, excitement, shooting, and the killing. This book will shoot you away
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