Author: Jimmy Docherty
Release date: 7th Jan 2008
Genre: children's fiction/crime/adventure/comedy
Target audience: 9+
UK Publisher: Chicken House
When Jake Drake gets mugged twice in ten minutes, he comes up with a plan to con the criminals on his estate. With the help of his closet pals, he starts a rumour about a new gangster in town - the Big Baresi, the biggest gangster that never was. The con works, but not for long, as events start snow-balling out of control. Soon Jake and his gang are in trouble. Big trouble. Facing total meltdown, and stuck with a freezer full of diamonds every bad guy wants a scoop of.
What do you do when you don't have a lot of money and all the money you have gets stolen when you are mugged twice in ten minutes? Jake Drake, the victim of this scenario, knows the perfect solution: revenge, of course!
Twelve-year-old Jake Drake lives wih his grandmother on the Lochrannoch estate in Glasgow that's teeming with petty thieves and dangerous gangsters. The neighbourhood is known to the police, but that's of no use because the policemen are corrupt. When Jake gets mugged by two tough girls who work for an even tougher local gangster, taking all of his grandmother's food money for the week, Jake decides that he has had it. Together with his friends, he designs a plan to get his money back and teach the bullies a lesson along the way. They invent a new gangster in town, the Big Baresi, and spread rumours about how powerful and dangerous the new crime boss is. The local crime lords take the bait, but when a stash of stolen diamonds gets missing and everyone begins to believe the Big Baresi did it, which makes the crime lords determined to find the man and kill him, the kids are suddenly in more trouble than they had anticipated.
A real and dangerous adventure begins. The children must clear Baresi's name to extricate themselves from the situation, but this is very difficult to do when you are only twelve, not particularly tough and with two dangerous crime lords after you, which makes the children very nervous, but eager to finish the game. The children in this novel, with Jake as their leader, are more or less typical twelve-year-olds, but instead of just hanging around the estate, they have to fight crime lords and corrupt policemen.
The whole adventure is both tense and humorous. Dangerous and funny things happen one after another, creating a fun and dynamic read. The children are pushed into doing a lot of things, which includes stealing an ice-cream truck and a van of sumo suits. The adventure is also a bit far-fetched, as one can hardly imagine a group of twelve-year-old boys (and a girl) accomplishing all of those things and defeating dangerous and experienced crime lords. But once you can accept the fact that a bit of disbelief makes the whole adventure more exciting, you can simply enjoy yourself while cheering for the children to succeed.
I enjoyed the setting, which is Glasgow. I liked the characters, which were dynamic and entertaining, each in their own way. I enjoyed the novel as a whole, but I believe that essentially, this is a book meant for teenage boys. Girls can read it, of course, but I think that this book can be truly enjoyed by boys. It's not the sort of action adventure story that can be enjoyed by both genders. I think that only boys can truly appreciate it.
All in all, this is a very fun and adventurous read, tackling ordinary children in an extraordinary situation that spices up their every-day.
Becky says: Irena, it is interesting that you think it will appeal more to boys than girls. Certainly the boys at my school love humour but there are some girls who love it too. I'd be interested to hear their verdict. I have to say it sounds bizarre in a brilliantly comic kind of way. What a great review!
Both our thanks go to Chicken House for sending the book for review.