The character P.K. Pinkerton had won me over by page 3! A perfectly voiced protagonist with a Gift and a Thorn, P.K. is a breath of fresh air. The Case of the Deadly Desperados is book 1 of a new Western Mystery series. However, it reads more like a Western version of Mad, Mad World with a revolving door of colorful characters ranging from Soiled Doves, Chinese, gamblers, and even Samuel Clemens. Westerns used to be the staple of American cinema and children’s literature, but it has been a long time since I have seen a new children’s western; this book feels almost ground-breaking. Frankly, any book that uses the word “skeedaddle” has charm and atmosphere stamped all over it.
P.K. relates this account in a matter-of-fact manner and never shies away from telling the reader about the lawlessness and grittiness of Virginia City in 1862–so hold onto your hat!
Profanity/Language: 3 religious exclamations; 9 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names.
Violence/Gore: Several times characters are threatened at gunpoint; a 12 year old finds parents murdered and scalped in a pool of blood with a hatchet still in the chest of one parent; a character is hit in the nose with an iron (told comically); bullies punch a kids; there is general shooting and lawlessness in a Western town; reference to killings that have occurred in town; a character is nicknamed “Whittling” because he whittles body parts off of his victims; 2nd hand account of an attack on a wagon train and deaths; characters are shot at on many occasions; a gunfight breaks out in a salon; a brief scene in which a pinkie finger is cut off with a bowie knife and lands in a character’s cake, blood mentioned; a character is shot (non-fatal); a character falls to death; a doctor “digs” around for a ball in a character that has been shot.
Sex/Nudity: Many reference to Soiled Doves; a character frankly tells of her mother “taking up” with a man that she was not married to and then she “fell pregnant”; characters kiss; a young character tries to get another young character to kiss her; there is a reference to a “Hooker”; a 12 year old passes through a hotel room and sees out of the corner of their eye a man and woman bouncing on a bed; a one page general discussion between an adult and a young character about desire and how things are between men and women, with a reference to horses and dogs mating.
Mature Subject Matter:
Murder, Racial Discrimination, Parental Abandonment, Orphans, Drug Addiction, Betrayal (aka Double-crossing).
Alcohol / Drug Use:
General references to smoking, salons, drunks, tobacco chewing, and whiskey. There is a reference to opium dens and a character being an addict. A 12 year old character goes into an opium den in search of another character. Laudanum is administered by a doctor during an operation.