Twelve-year-old half-Lakota “double-orphan” detective P.K. Pinkerton heads to Carson City in the third of the disarming Western Mysteries series.
The year is 1862, and news of P.K.’s private-eye prowess has spread through the Nevada Territory. A high-class Virginia City courtesan hires the detective to spy on her possibly unfaithful fiance, the very same Poker Face Jace who is P.K.’s beloved mentor. P.K. has what he calls a “Thorn,” difficulty showing or reading emotion; Jace has taught his protégé to read people’s “tells,” and not just around the poker table. As P.K. shadows Jace in Carson City, he thinks “Blind Widow Woman” will be his best disguise ever—until his “sock bosom” migrates north. (P.K.’s true gender is deliberately left iffy until the end.) Carson City is alive with gamblers and guns, drinkers and desperados…even a young Sam Clemens. The silver mines are humming, the railroad’s coming, and the colorful legislature wrangles the law. P.K.—the best kind of hero—navigates it all with unblinking acceptance of the salty characters he meets, straight-shooting honesty and impressive investigative work. The young detective’s dryly hilarious first-person accounts keep the story at a gallop.
No disguise can mask P.K. Pinkerton’s stout heart and steely resolve in Lawrence’s third (and mighty fine) Wild West adventure. (maps) (Historical fiction. 10-14)