Island of Thieves
Andersen, 2011, 237p
Never have I read a novel that so quickly leapt into action. Within the first chapter, Josh Lacey sets us up for a thrilling, dangerous adventure that takes our protagonists from New York to Peru.
With his parents going on their first holiday without the kids, there is no one to look after Tom (mainly because no one is brave enough to take him on - he has just accidentally set fire to the garden shed). Tom ends up with his Uncle Harvey, a man about whom little is known. But Uncle Harvey is headed to Peru, and Tom talks him into taking his nephew along. Unfortunately, Harvey neglects to tell Tom why they are headed to Lima until it is too late, and they both find themselves under the thumb of one of the most dangerous men in South America.
By the end of the adventure, I was convinced that Harvey and Tom are the luckiest men alive. There isn't a moment when their lives aren't in danger, as they follow an ancient trail to uncover buried treasure. You have to suspend your disbelief a little, as they encounter situations that I am convinced no one could survive, but you are in for an gripping ride.
The Island of Thieves is a cross-over of many genres, from mystery to thriller to adventure. It lacks female characters a little too much for my taste, but Tom is such a rounded character that I think any young reader would relate to him. He isn't exceptional, he's ordinary, and so we can feel part of his journey.