Two Good Thieves by Daniel Finn

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Two Good Thieves by Daniel Finn

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley
Reviewed by Jason Mark Curley
Summary: Oliver Twist meets City of God.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0230737761

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Baz lives in the Barrio of an unnamed city in South America. No, let's get this right, she survives. Not knowing her own parents, she was raised by Fay – a skin headed woman who veers between lovable and unsavoury and is the Fagin character in this story. Yes, she'll look after children who need her help, but all of them will end up going out and stealing for her.

She wanders round the uptown areas of the city with her partner-in-crime, Demi. So they don't stick out, Fay keeps them well dressed. While one of them watches for the police, the other scopes out a mark and steals from them: money, a wallet, a bag of shopping. But on this day, Demi spots a lady exiting a jewellers with a small box and quickly relieves her of it. But he is detected and, as a result, Baz is chased all the way back to the barrio, only narrowly getting away with the box.

When Demi and Baz look inside they find an expensive looking ring and hand it over to Fay. But it soon turns out that the woman Demi stole the ring from was the wife of the chief of police and the ring could end up being more trouble than it's worth.

The blurb on this book suggest it fits somewhere between City of God and Oliver Twist and I think that's exactly right and an excellent way of contextualising this novel. And with the sun beating down on my garden at the moment, I've felt close to the stifling temperatures of this novel's landscape.

Dialect is deployed in the very conversational style of the third person narrative. It took a few pages to get comfortable with this – almost a native tour guide voice directing you through the journey. It works very well though it often makes the writing seem a little truncated.

The characters are fantastic. I wanted to feel sorry for Demi and Baz and their situation, but they're so resilient and ingenious that it makes this almost impossible. There is a tangible sense of danger and excitement as you get to follow them on their daily escapades, stealing and evading the law; I think it would be hard for anybody not to get caught up in this novel straight away.

All of them are very different and very real. All of them have warm, caring sides which only last till survival mode kicks in. At the start of the novel a few clues about Fay's past are revealed and without telling you know she's been through a lot of pain to get where she is. The children all carry something with them, Demi and Baz seem the least affected, but the inevitable feeling this book gives you is that their wild and almost care-free existence is not going to last much longer.

This book was over before I knew it; I was totally hooked into this unbelievably believable world. This, along with Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn, Blood Hunters by Steve Voake and The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp by Jim Arnosky, top my list for some great summer reads.

Thanks to the publishers for sending me a review copy of the book.

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