Lawrence, C. (2011). The case of the deadly desperadoes. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN: 9781444001693
Annotation: P.K. Pinkerton walks into his family home just after his foster parents have been murdered by desperados disguised as Indians, and now they’re after him. What does P.K. have that has the most dangerous man around after him?
Reaction: I love a good western, so I was pretty excited when I first saw this at the library. It took me some time to get into this story, but I think I was trying to read at least three other books at the time, so the slow start was not necessarily the fault of the story. P.K. has a “Thorn” that means he cannot read other people’s emotions and has to rely on a list of facial expressions his foster mother gave him to give him an idea of the difference between happy, sad, angry and surprised. Thankfully, P.K. is also blessed with a perfect memory and good detecting skills. These attributes make me think that P.K. falls somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, though that is never explicitly stated.
As an adolescent boy on his own for the first time, P.K. has to navigate the lawless streets of Virginia City, Nevada and figure who he can trust in order to stay one step ahead of Whittlin’ Walt, the baddest, meanest, scariest desperado in the territory. His adventures take him all over the town and down into a mine shaft, which is where the story starts with P.K. writing down an account of everything that had happened so far. Once he gets to Virginia City, the story really gets going and each narrow miss makes the reader wonder how P.K. will ever get out of THIS mess?
I would recommend this book for readers who love adventure or westerns or stories where girls pretend to be boys (is P.K. a girl pretending to be a boy? Or a boy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a boy? That’s not a question Lawrence ever fully answers) or for kids who need or want to see a representation of a hero who is probably on the Autism Spectrum.