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The Case of the Deadly Desperados (The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  645 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
Introducing P.K. Pinkerton, Master of Disguise
When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run. He's forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only ke
Hardcover, 269 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Orion Children's Books
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Community Reviews

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The Case of the Deadly Desperado is a TERRIBLE book that Caroline Lawrence should be ashamed of. I am not sure what was added to the story by having the protagonist be half Sioux other than the excuse to include all sorts of offensive stereotypes and racial slurs. I do not care if the use of the word “squaw” was acceptable in the 1860s – it is not an appropriate word to use in 2012, in a children’s book.

The half Native boy, Pinky, is further marginalized because he is autistic. To add another la
Barb Middleton
Nov 23, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
Giddyup! A western/detective story for kids with nonstop action, great characters, and nice plot twists. Pull out your imaginary pistols and enjoy this surprising book. Our hero, P.K. Pinkerton begins this tale from the bottom of a cave because he is about to be killed. He has witnessed the murder of his ma and pa who were scalped by Whittlin' Walt and his 'pards in search of a document that will make them rich. Twelve-year-old P.K. holds that document and is on the run as they hunt him down.

Aug 24, 2012 Debbie rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Serendipity Reviews
Jun 15, 2011 Serendipity Reviews rated it it was amazing
Caroline Lawrence is extremely well known for writing The Roman Mysteries which has helped lots of children embrace the Romans and find a love of history at the same time. Caroline has now embarked on a new journey and has presented us with the first book in The Western Mysteries series, which takes us back to the Wild West of America, Virginia City in 1862 to be precise.

Up until reading this book, my only real knowledge of the Wild West was through the last film in the Back to the Future trilog
Jun 08, 2011 Emma rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at the Book Monkey blog:

Caroline Lawrence is most well-known for her very popular series The Roman Mysteries. Lawrence has now swapped Ancient Rome for the Wild West in her new novel The Case of the Deadly Desperados, the first in her new series The Western Mysteries, published on 2nd June 2011 by Orion. This is actually the first title I’ve read byLawrence but I can tell you now it certainly won’t be my last!

I won’t go into too much det
Jun 03, 2011 Becky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-review
The Case of the Deadly Desperados is the first book in Caroline Lawrence’s new series The Western Mysteries and if you ask me, it is a work of genius!

P.K. Pinkerton or Pinky to his friends is a half-Sioux half-American boy or quite possibly girl. One of the delights of this book is the fact that you never get to know Pinky’s gender. One minute I was absolutely certain that Pinky was a boy. The next I was thinking how empowering that Pinky was a girl. The author creates this uncertainty through P
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 thr ...more
In The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence, P.K. Pinkerton's parents are murdered by the infamous Whittling Walt and his band of desperados who want a deed to silver rich land near Virginia City which P.K. has. P.K. goes to Virginia City to get away from the outlaws, but he is found there. Walt relentlessly pursues P.K. until he is forced to run into a mine to get way from the outlaws.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados is the first of a series. The book is set in in Virginia City
Sep 26, 2015 Joel rated it really liked it
I thought the book was great I like how skirt boy came to save PK Pinkerton from Belle Donne and when he needed to try on disguises to hide from Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados. The sad thing is that he found his foster parents dead in a pool of blood what a sad event in his life. The ending was also good because PK Pinkerton didn't want to go to Chicago because Belle Donne said she was also going to Chicago so he decided to be a detective in Virginia City. Belle Donne you sho ...more
May 07, 2016 Geordie rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it
I’m going to start off this review off by admitting that I’m not the biggest fan of westerns. I don’t believe that era should be venerated in fiction. It was an ugly time. In ordinary circumstances, I would have avoided this book. But when I heard that this is no ordinary western, but a mystery/western novel, I was intrigued. So I picked up this book, and then I found out that the main character was AUTISTIC.

Not just autistic, I might add, but a real, three dimensional character whose actions a
Mar 04, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
P.K. Pinkerton is an unusual protagonist, for a few reasons. First, he is a twice orphaned 12 year old boy alone in the wild west of the late 1890s Nevada silver mining country, a wild place of lawlessness, sin, and frequent random shootings. Second, he is half Sioux indian and half anglo-american, and his father was the elder brother of the famous Allan Pinkerton, who founded the Pinkerton Railway Detectives. And third, and perhaps most importantly, he manifests behaviors symptomatic of what to ...more
Janine Chalmers
May 27, 2015 Janine Chalmers rated it really liked it
Shelves: books13-25
T’was the thorn in his side. P. K. Pinkerton was the smartest boy you’d ever meet. Read anything once, he’ll remember it. Any multiplication, no matter how large, would be a synch for him. His Ma was a Cherokee and his Pa was a railway detective. After his pa went missing and his ma died he was blessed with another set of parents. They were preachers that started their own little town. P. K. couldn’t ask for more. Then one day he came home and there was smoke rising from the roof. His new Ma and ...more
4th grade booktalk
“My name is P.K. Pinkerton, and before this day is over I will be dead. I am trapped down the deepest shaft of a Comstock silver mine with three desperados closing in on me.”
P.K., or Pinky as his foster Ma called him, is a twelve year-old half-Sioux boy who finds his foster parents murdered on his twelfth birthday, starts running, and pretty much doesn’t stop for the next 276 pages. Hiding on the beams in the ceiling of his cabin home, P.K. overhears the outlaws who murdered h
This book is written for and marketed towards the school-age crowd. However I wonder about some of the topics in this story. There's graphic depictions of murder, and not just a few innuendos and descriptions of adult behavior. On top of all that it's rather a creepy story.

Twelve-year-old Pinky is on his own after his foster parents are brutally murdered by 3 outlaws. The outlaws were obviously looking for something and didn't find it. But Pinky finds it. It's the deed to a large amount of land
Dec 18, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing
Wow, I REALLY liked this book. GREAT characters! GREAT story! This is a clever and fun story. Set in the Wild West P.K.’s story keeps you turning the pages to see what happens. There are surprises at every turn and a REALLY big one at the end. The first sentence of the story instantly grabs the reader: “My name is P. K. Pinkerton and before this day is over I will be dead.” And it doesn't slow down until the end. Real historical figures are weaved into the story or used as backdrop (i.e. Sam Cle ...more
In his darkest hour P.K. Pinkerton begins writing his story on blank ledger sheets he finds deep in the mines that he is currently trapped in. He came home on his borthday to find his foster ma and pa murdered, and the murderer is after him for a piece of paper left to P.K. by his real ma. He travels to Virginia City intent on eventually finding his way to Chicago to hopefully work with his real Pa's brother, the head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Instead P.K. finds himself slipping in and ...more
Janet Martin
Jan 08, 2016 Janet Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and amusing. Filled with wonderful historical detail, humor, and a terrific performance by T. Sands. Unfortunately this book goes right over the heads of most of its intended audience--kids between the ages of 9-12, who are not going to recognize most of the good bits. A lot went over the head of my fairly well-read 10 yr old grandson, even though we listened together and I provided a lot of commentary, particularly when he was baffled at my bursts of laughter, or I felt the need to exp ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Luann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While this book was entertaining, I'm rating it only 2 stars because I felt it was inappropriate for the intended audience (8-12 year olds). Too much language, innuendo, and tasteless humor.
Jul 24, 2012 Jessica added it
Shelves: didnt-finish
Not really anything wrong with this one, just too many references to "soiled doves" who "spark men for money" that by the time someone called a woman a whore I knew I could never recommend this to anyone I didn't know well at the library.
Lana Jackson
"P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados" is an action packed page turner. Twelve-year-old P.K. is twice orphaned, running from the killers of his foster parents and searching for his inheritance. The killers follow him to 1862 Virginia City.

P.K. confronts and overcomes many obstacles along his journey and encounters Sam Clemens, eager reporter looking for a scoop, before he writes under pen name of Mark Twain.

Vivid setting descriptions and historical elements bring this story to life, drawing
Richard Marman
Feb 25, 2014 Richard Marman rated it really liked it
This is a quirky little starter to a series about a 12-y.o. (whether a boy or girl is ambiguous)detective in Nevada during the American Civil War. Although obviously marketed for younger readers, Caroline Lawrence doesn't shy away from gunfights, smoky saloons, scalping, 'soiled doves' and general mayhem in the streets of Virginia City during the heady boom-time days of the Comstock Lode. I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner as well as its sequel and I'm about to read the third book of the seri ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Cathi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“My name is P.K. Pinkerton and before this day is over I will be dead.” The first sentence of this story in print is one come-on. But hearing it read, with a dead-on, dead-pan western accent that continues to relate one astonishing event after another, is enough to entice a listener to enjoyment of the entire journaling account of the adventures of 12-year old P.K. Pinkerton as soon as possible. Recently orphaned for a second time, P.K. writes while stuck in bottom of a mine shaft, awaiting the ...more
Ariel Marie
Jul 14, 2013 Ariel Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book that I've read with a young protagonist with an ASD. Besides this novel, there was one I loved (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) and absolutely hated (House Rules by Jodi Picoult). Meanwhile, I am happy to admit that P.K. Pinkerton is my favorite out of the novels, and am happy to see him saving the days across the pages of a middle grade novel. Finally, a novel that handles Asperger's without dealing with "overcoming" it and so on.

PK wants to become a det
Jul 09, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Case of the Deadly Desperados is a fast-paced combination of exciting, real, funny and interesting details created to immerse you in the Wild West from the start. The book begins: “My name is P.K. Pinkerton and before this day is over I will be dead. I am trapped down the deepest shaft of a Comstock silver mine with three desperados closing in on me. Until they find me, I have my pencil & these ledger sheets and a couple of candles. If I write small & fast, I might be able to write a ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
PK "Pinky" is being hounded by desperadoes in the Silver-mining mountains of 1960's Nevada. The lively tale is the first in a new series by Lawrence who has been writing mysteries for youth audiences for years. I checked out the first series, Roman Mysteries, and so I expected that while Pinky begins in a dark tunnel, hunted down by Whittlin' Walt and soon to meet his doom.... the story would work out. This is told in flashback style and recounts the few short days building up to the dark, minin ...more
Oct 12, 2013 Sam rated it did not like it
This book had great potential, and being a fan of the western genre I was really looking forward to reading it. However, I was just not okay with so many things. I don't even know where to begin, so here is a list in no particular order:
1. If you're going to have a character with autism, no matter what the time period of the book is, please don't use the term "Freak of Nature." Talk about how the person thinks differently or looks at things differently, but don't continually make it a disability
Ms. Yingling
Jan 25, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
P.K. Pinkerton, who is half Native American, sees his foster parents killed in a small western town in 1862. The criminals are masquerading as Indians, but are in fact the deadly outlaw Whittlin’ Walt and his partners who are looking for a deed that P.K. got from his birth parents. P.K. manages to escape to the next town, where he encounters Belle, an “actress”, who helps him escape Walt but steals the deed. Assisted by a Chinese laundry boy, Ping, and two newspaper reporters, P.K. manages to el ...more
I mourned the end of Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series so was thrilled to see her start this new one. The Westerns seem to be aimed at a slightly older audience being much longer although the protagonist is still relatively young- 11/12yo. There is considerable period appropriate violence and as usual Lawrence does not shy away from the seamier aspects of her historical settings.

P.K. is an interesting character with the added twist that he (she??- we're never quite sure) suffers from his "Tho
May 31, 2016 Rhys rated it it was amazing
This review was originally posted on

I came to read The Case of the Deadly Desperados with a certain excitement and apprehension – excitement because The Roman Mysteries were a large part of my childhood reading, and apprehension because I was worried that The Case of the Deadly Desperados, or more broadly The Western Mysteries, would not be to the standard of The Roman Mysteries.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados is different. It HAS to be different. I think that had it had a
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Caroline Lawrence won a scholarship to Cambridge to read Classical Archaeology, then did a degree in Hebrew and Jewish studies at University College London. She now lives in London with her English husband and teaches Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Art and French to children.

* Roman Mysteries
Western Mysteries
More about Caroline Lawrence...

Other Books in the Series

The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries (4 books)
  • The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse (The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries, #2)
  • P.K. Pinkerton and the Pistol-Packing Widows (The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries #3)
  • The Case of the Bogus Detective (The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries, #4)

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