In the first book in her new Western Mysteries series Caroline Lawrence takes us back in time to Virginia City in 1862. We follow the story of P.K Pinkerton who is being chased by a gang of desperados, they already killed and scalped his foster parents and he is next on their list. I say HIS foster parents but throughout the entire book we're never quite sure if P.K is actually a boy or a girl. The author has done a fantastic job of keeping P.K's gender a secret, he adopts numerous disguises throughout the story and I was constantly changing my mind about whether he is a boy or a girl. Either way he was a character I loved and I can't wait to get my hands on the
I'm sure P.K. is autistic, the way he thinks reminds me a lot of Christopher, the main character in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Both characters are extremely intelligent but have trouble understanding facial expressions, don't like to be touched and aren't comfortable when their routines are changed. Of course there would have been no way of identifying autism back in the Wild West so this is never confirmed but I would be very surprised if it wasn't true. P.K. finds it very hard to work out who is telling him the truth which makes it very difficult for him to decide who to trust and leads to him getting into trouble on more than one occasion.
The Wild West is a harsh and violent place where everyone is out for themselves and most people will only help you if they're going to get something out of it. Caroline Lawrence has captured the atmosphere perfectly and it feels like you are walking through Virginia City beside P.K. with the desperados not far behind. We are introduced to a wide range of side characters, some of whom will surprise you completely and I'm looking forward to finding out more about them in future installments of the series.
If you're looking for something a bit different and fancy going on a Western adventure look no further than The Case of the Deadly Desperados. The story is fast paced with short chapters and an incredibly easy book to fly through in one sitting, I'm sure even the most reluctant reader would enjoy it. This may have been the first book I've read by Caroline Lawrence but it definitely won't be the last and I'm looking forward to checking out her Roman Mysteries series in the not to distant future.