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The Case of the Deadly Desperados

(The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  837 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Virginia City in 1862 is a mining camp sitting above a rich vein of silver in America's Wild West. It's a dangerous place, full of gamblers, hurdy girls and gunmen - all of them on the make. When 12-year-old P.K. Pinkerton arrives there, homeless, penniless and hunted, things don't look good.
Hardcover, 269 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Orion Children's Books
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3.81  · 
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 ·  837 ratings  ·  176 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
Aug 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barb Middleton
Nov 23, 2012 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.

I read this a few years ago with my daughter who was then 11. We both loved it! It's a western, a mystery, a thriller, and a survival story. There was one part I was a bit worried about near the beginning because it was a bit graphic (view spoiler)
There are layers of mystery to this one, begi
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eva Ludlow
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge
Loved it!
Jun 02, 2011 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
Serendipity Reviews
May 30, 2011 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
Mar 05, 2011 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
Dec 10, 2014 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
Jenn Estepp
If you ever watched Deadwood and thought, "It's good, but I wish it were funnier. And that the hero was a twelve-year old, half-Native kid with Asperger's tendencies." then this is pretty much the perfect book for you. And I mean that in the best possible way, because I do love myself some Deadwood. And this? I enjoyed it ever so much. Like, actually glad it's going to be a series because I want more adventures with this crew, so much and I say things like that very rarely. Just really fun (but ...more
Jun 26, 2012 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.
Jul 18, 2015 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.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
It probably isn't fair for an adult to review a book for young readers, but it can be revealing and I learned a bit about me in this "kid thriller." I read some of the negative reviews, that it uses derogatory words, has violence, etc. To write a book about any era with our phrases and present day biases (and we all have fashionable biases) wouldn't be true to the era or characters. Sometimes slipping in modern mores helps round out matters, but it needs to be used with care. Those who use P.C. ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kids
I have not been this angry with a book in a long time. I believe the author was trying to create a "true to time period" feeling but it comes across as ignorant, racist, and confusing. Yes, there are nods to actual history (racial slurs, "slang," Pinkerton Detective Agency) but the intended audience doesn't need the wildly random spelling, caricaturization of "Wild West" language, racial insensitivity (ignorance?!), and innuendo. And I'm not going to even address the "Thorn." UGH! This could may ...more
⋆ Squiggles  ☾
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs
I enjoyed this. The beginning is a little slow, but it really picks up later--to the point of me not wanting to put it down. I only wish the author could've found more organic ways to inject historical facts into the story. The dialogue when characters were explaining little facts about the old west felt very stilted and forced. Other than that though, fun read. I love that Pinky's androgynous (and that the story sort-of leans toward them being female), and I will continue reading the rest of th ...more
This Historical Fiction takes place in the Nevada Territory of Virginia City during the 1860's as 12 year old P.K. Pinkerton eludes the killers of his foster parents, and tries to unravel the mystery of a document he has, and that everyone seems to want from him. Laced with notable historic figures within the pages, this funny, revealing, and at times dangerous adventure will keep the reader turning the pages of PK's Ledger Sheet.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
P.K. is my hero, once again Caroline Lawrence creates another fictional character who is utterly unique and whom I would die for, plus the attention to detail and historical accuracy without dragging the whole story down (and actually making the story a lot more interesting) takes unbelievable skill
Daisy  Duke
I ADORE THIS SERIES!!! If you love accuracy, history, westerns, addictive story lines, loveable characters then this is the series for you! Highly recommended this to anyone to be honest xD.
After I read these at the library (couldn't put them down!) I bought my own copys from amazon as I loved them so much.
Ella Hansen
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like mystery or western this series is definitely for you. Even if you don't like either, it is well written and action packed and great for those who like amazing well thought out plot twists.
Sean Harding
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun mystery-western about young world weary detective, half Indian and with some really great moments, including the surprise reveal about PK - a top notch read and the beginning of a series, roll on number #2!!
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit violent, especially for a book targeted at middle-graders. But it was interesting to have the main character on the autism spectrum, at a time when "autism" wasn't even named.
Megan Meyer
Fun read.
Morgan Meyer
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was a good book from the 1800's about how only white people could ride in the crriges
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was good. I liked how it really left you hanging you until the end.
Loved this random audio I decided to try out. Now I feel like I might have to read on in this fun western mystery series about a young girl who suffers from not having empathy and understanding of other people.
Ariel Marie
Jul 05, 2013 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
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
A pretty middle of the the road juvenile read for me. Though having now read some other reviews, I realize I missed some questionably racist or at least inappropriate-for-the-age-range content. Audiobooking means I typically don't pay full attention because multitasking is a librarian's superpower. Curious if this went over well with the intended age range and why or why not.
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For all fans of the P.K Pinkerton series! Discussion 6 2 Mar 24, 2019 02:56PM  

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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

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)