The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Caroline Lawrence has moved away from her Roman Mysteries to the Wild West, and it's a lot of fun.
P.K. "Pinky" Pinkerton is a half-Lakota foster child to the Joneses, and we open on their being scalped and killed by "Injuns", except Ma Evangeline realizes they're actually white men. Turns out that one of the men is Whitling Walt, so named because he "whittles" his victims, and they weren't after the Joneses they were after a Letter that PK's real mother gave him.
P.K. runs away, hoping to get to Chicago, where he can persuade his uncle (the famous Pinkerton detective) to hire him. However, he only makes it as far as Virginia City, a Nevada mining town filled with gamblers, Chinese "Celestials", miners and Soiled Doves. Because of his Thorn, P.K. is unable to tell whom to trust and ends up being shot at, tied up and finding ways to disguise himself before he can get to the Recorder's to have his Letter declared true.
The combination of P.K.'s Thorn (aka ASD) and the Wild West atmosphere make this a great Middle School boy read - they'll enjoy the history and detective work, as well as P.K.'s take on people and events.
ARC provided by publisher.