If you've read my TV rankings you know I love the caper shows, the ones built around heists. I can tell you the moment I fell in love with heists up on the screen: watching really young Shirley Maclaine and equally young Michael Caine in Gambit, a 1966 heist movie that featured a perfect caper. Well, almost the perfect caper. And, almost a perfect movie. Not the best of the genre, but one I fondly remember. I might have been around that age where having a young Shirley Maclaine in a movie was good enough. This is all background of course, to explain away a five-star rating for a Young Adult novel that doesn't involve magic or science fiction.
Ally Carter has the high school, well the high school for exceptional children, beat down pat with her Gallagher Girls series and this book, Heist Society. Think Gossip Girl--the high school years, mixed with The A-Team and Hustle. I think I have that right ... teenagers at private schools run amuck, with capers more convoluted than anything Hollywood's yet dreamed of, and the main characters are all part of an extended family that steals for kicks, money and a little justice. Oh, and the main viewpoint character is a charming elfin girl named Katerina Bishop, Kat to all of her friends.
Kat wants out of the family biz and is taking a sabbatical away from crime at a real school when fate returns her to her Uncle Eddie, the leader of this family of grifters. Seems Kat's dad is in a bit of a pickle. A not-nice guy has been relieved of some of his ill-gotten loot and figgers Kat's dad did the deed. Kat answers the call to pull off a real heist (or two) and get her dad off the hook.
She assembles a team of other near adults: W.W. Hale to create a little boy-girl tension and her cousin Gabrielle, who drips sex and serves as a contrast to the diminutive Kat. And Gabrielle drips sex, giving the bad to cat burglar in a really-PG kind of way. It's all more wholesome than it sounds, but Hollywood will inevitably tart it up. Hey, it worked for Gossip Girl. For comedic relief, the Bagshaw twins, Hamish and Angus. Think over-exuberant giant teenagers.
Although Kat's cased The Louvre in the past, the target this time is the lesser-known, yet equally tough to crack Henley Museum. (It's fictional, although there IS a Henley-On-Thames Museum, devoted to the history of rowing) Maybe the Henley is tougher, since it's intimated that The Louvre security isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Needless to say, Kat wins the day, with the help of yet another boy, driving up the sizzle factor in the Kat-Hale partnership. And it's all first rate and quite interesting as a primer in the art of the theft, as part of the greater whole of grifter life.
This isn't the longest read on record, a pleasant evening's diversion. But it leaves one looking forward to the second in the series, Uncommon Criminals. And trust me, the sequel does, in fact, stand up to this first volume.