When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.
For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.
My rating: 5/5
(review may contain minor spoilers)
Alright, so I read this book right when it came out a few years ago. I remembered thoroughly enjoying it, so I decided to reread it this week. At just under 300 pages, it’s a nice length and manages to finish the story well.
The novel opens with an introduction to the Colgan School, our main character’s current residence.
No one knew for certain when the trouble started at the Colgan School. Some members of its alumni association blamed the decision to admit girls. Others cited newfangled liberal ideals and a general decline in the respect for elders worldwide. But no matter the theory, no one could deny that, recently, life at the Colgan School was different.
While this opening is not as fast-paced as some other spy/crime novels, it definitely intrigued me. I was immediately drawn to the prestigious atmosphere of the school and the way Ally Carter described it. She writes it in a way that makes you feel like you’re there watching everything unfold. With the first sentence, I wanted to know what the “trouble” was referring to. And it did not disappoint.
I absolutely adored our main character, Katarina Bishop. She’s spunky and feisty, but best of all…she’s real. You can feel her struggle throughout the book as she goes from trying to be a normal girl who’s had anything but a normal life to trying to save her family and pull off her biggest job yet. It says in the first few pages, “Some called her a hero; others called her a freak.” I really enjoy her characterization because you can feel what she feels. You can feel the sheer desperation that Kat has throughout the book from attempting to keep her father alive. You can feel the hope slipping away as things get more complicated. You can feel the acceptance as Hale drags her back into the “family business.” Kat is a strong character, but I love that we get to see her inner thoughts and experience her small moments of weakness. We get to see her almost break down, but hold it together and move on. She was written extremely well and I loved delving into her mind.
Hale. Oh my word, I think I found another guy to add to my “Characters to Marry” list. He’s suave and sophisticated and handsome and definitely a bit sneaky. After all, he did manage to convince Kat to rejoin the gang for some criminal fun. He is full of confidence and charm, not to mention the weight of his family’s wealth hanging over his shoulder. He’s the perfect love interest/best friend towards Kat and I love what he adds to the story. Not to mention, the way Kat describes him and his attributes is absolutely beautiful.
Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy. Then she wondered if it was something you could steal.
Kat’s family, including her father Bobby, Uncle Eddie, cousin Gabrielle, the Bagshaw brothers, and many other colorful characters provide for a hilarious cast. From the dry wit of her father to the sultry sass of Gabrielle, these supporting characters add so much to the story. They all play an important role and it’s extremely interesting to see how people tie into a sort of ‘crime family.’
The main villain is named Arturo Taccone. When his prize pieces of art get stolen, his prime and only suspect is Bobby Bishop. However, he is more than willing to use Kat as a middle man when Bobby is in a bit of trouble of his own. I honestly enjoyed Taccone. I felt like I understood his motives, even if I was frustrated at him for not listening to Kat half the time. I felt like his actions were given reason and that he was a force to be reckoned with. However, we also saw his shortcomings, which was a gift in and of itself. I like the dimensions to him, as well as the other characters.
The story-line for this novel was very intriguing. It featured the right amount of suspense and thrills, as well as a little comic relief and romance. By using such lively characters, Ally Carter managed to create a world that was realistic and unbelievably interesting. The really cool part about this novel is that it is something that could be happening right now. Crime rings exist all over the world, along with notorious families. I really enjoyed following Kat as she tried to make it through the countless obstacles thrown in her path. The conclusion and resolution was believable and everything fit together in a way that made you smile and shake your head because it was so ridiculous that it just had to work.
“You need me,” Gabrielle said. There was no doubt in her voice. No flirt. No ditz. She was in every way Uncle Eddie’s great-niece. A pro. A con. A thief. “Like it or not, Kitty Kat, the reunion starts now.”
It is an occupational hazard that anyone who has spent her life learning how to lie eventually becomes bad at telling the truth.
But Hale was still moving, shrinking the distance between them. He seemed impossibly close as he whispered, “And I didn’t choose it, Kat. I chose you.”
“Oh.” Hale smirked. “That’s simple.” Kat wasn’t moving— wasn’t dancing—and yet it felt like her heart might pound out of her chest as she watched Hale lean farther into the shadows and say, “I’m the guy who happened to be home the night Kat came to steal a Monet.”
Hale was Hale. And not knowing what the W’s stood for had become a constant reminder to Kat that, in life, there are some things that can be given but never stolen.
Of course, that didn’t stop her from trying.
“Some people understand the value of an education.” Hale stretched and crossed his legs, then settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.” “I’d settle for the ice cream.” “Deal.”
Ally Carter is a wonderful author. On her website, she says that she wrote the Heist Society books as a way to keep her older readers entertained once they became too old for Gallagher Girls. Personally, I love both series, but that’s not important. I think that Heist Society is full of suspense in all the right places. It’s a great read with wonderful language. I love that she tells you names of cons and you’re essentially rooting for the criminals. The way Carter crafts her characters is beautiful and I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out. And Kat and Hale? Three words. I ship it. This series is perfect for a long car ride and I highly encourage you to pick it up soon!
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