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Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter

uncommon criminalsKatarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Please note: As this is the second book in the series, there may be spoilers for Heist Society in this review. Read ahead at your own risk… ye have been warned!

“Every decent con man knows that the simplest truth is more powerful than even the most elaborate lie.”

Opening the covers on Uncommon Criminals was like opening a letter from your favourite relatives. You know the ones – the family that has the best dinner parties, the funniest jokes and the most amazing – and crazy – experiences. You can`t wait to see what they`ve been up to, and you`re a little sad that you`ve missed out on the experiences yourself. Never fear, though, because Kate and company will pull you into their latest scheme without pause.

Still riding the high from their audacious heist of the Henley in the first book, Kat is enticed to steal the famously cursed emerald that once belonged to Cleopatra. What she doesn`t know is that another player has entered the race for the emerald – and this one has the edge on Kat and her family, knowing all their tricks and cons before they even think of them. Kat is forced to face her past and to outwit her toughest adversary yet.

What can I say – I adored this second installment of the Heist Society series. The whole time I was reading the book, I pictured Emma Thompson as Maggie (this has caused much discussion with my friend Chandra, as she prefers Helen Mirren – and my interview with Ally Carter herself led to quite a discussion on this subject). She`s a fantastic character, and just the adversary Kat needs to stretch herself and start acting like more of an adult in her family. I sincerely hope that we will see more of her, because she just leaps off of the pages in front of you.

“Yes, of course. But … how?”

Kat felt her crew around her: Hamish’s arm hung around Simon’s shoulders; Gabrielle’s delicate hands draped through the arms of Angus and Nick. Kat’s own hand found Hale’s, then, fingers interlacing, palms pressing together so tightly that Kat knew nothing could come between them. Nothing. She looked at him. No one.

“It’s easy,” Kat said, “when you don’t have to do it alone.”

As with the first book in the series, Kat`s family plays an important role in the story. There`s a little more humour in this book, as well as some darker edges. Reading how the curse affects certain members of the family *ahem* Gabrielle*ahem was hysterical, especially for someone so known for her grace and poise. There`s some lovely moments here, though, that speak to the deep bonds that the family has with each other, and about how far they are willing to go to help one another. Also lovely was a little more background info about the twin uncles and their history. The con game has been a family affair for generations, and it was pretty cool to see that it was a flourishing business when Kat`s father and uncles were young, driven men. The next generation doesn`t let the side down, though – I think that Angus and Hamish may be taking the lead on my favourite quirky characters (don`t worry, Fred and George, you will always be my favourite ginger twins). Honestly, the two of them are walking time bombs of destruction.

At the start of the book, Kat has been off on her own adventures, saving treasures that were stolen by the Nazis in an effort to return them to their rightful homes. Her Robin Hood adventures are fulfilling her need to live a less larcenous life, while still feeding her need for the con – unfortunately, she`s chosen to leave her family out of it once again, and learning that she needs to have someone at her back every once in a while is a hard lesson for her to learn. Lucky for her, Hale isn`t about to give up on her, and Kat does grow up a bit – the romance plot does move along a bit, but really, the action is front and centre, and the burgeoning relationship between Kat and Hale only adds an extra dimension to their con. Again, Carter makes the relationship very believable – still very connected to each other, but well within the normal feelings range of a teenager here. I love that there`s indecision and insecurity here, and that they need reassurance from each other – there is no ìnsta-love` for them, and, as with any normal relationship, their connection needs constant attention and work to survive.

“Might have a couple of kinks to work through,” Hale admitted then reached for her hand. As soon as he touched her, Kat knew there was no such thing as curses. People make and break their own fortunes–they are the masters of their own fate. And right then Kat wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

So, should you read this? If you are someone who wants well-written action sequences and clever dialogue, with a realistic teen relationship in a setting suitable for a Clooney movie – then absolutely! Uncommon Criminals is a fabulous second in the series, and a solid read for both teens and adults.

Uncommon Criminals was purchased by me for review in anticipation of reviewing the third book in the series. It is published by Hyperion (Hachette Canada), and is available for purchase at Indigo, Amazon and your friendly independent bookstore. ISBN:9781423147954, 298 pages.

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