Heist Society by Ally Carter
Lots of people go into the family business - just look around you and see how many companies are named "So-and-so and Sons" (or, these days, "So-and-so and Daughters"). Katarina Bishop had followed in the footsteps of her mother, her father, and her Uncle Eddie from a very early age. You won't see "Bishop and Sons" on a signboard, though: the Bishop family keeps a very, very low profile - you would, too, if you were a professional art thief.
Snatached unwillingly from the boarding scholl where she'd "retired" from the biz (retirement at age fifteen seemed odd to her family, too), Katarina finds herself facing a daunting challenge. Someone stole five paintings from the (supposedly) impregnable fortress of a crime lord (the "bad" kind of crime), and he's blamed Bobby Bishop - Kat's father. If the paintings don't reappear in two weeks, Bishop Père will pay the price. Unfortunately, Pop had nothing to do with the crime...
Desperate to save her father from the evil mobster, Kat enlists five (then six) other like-minded, light-fingered teens to steal back the paintings. Her crew includes her supermodelish cousin, the bad-seed scion of family of billionaires, an e-genius, and the usual muscle. Her task is complicated by the location of the stolen paintings: they're inside Europe's most secure museum. It's a good thing Katarina Bishop inherited the family genius for planning impossible thefts, 'cause she's gonna need it.
Heist Society is the first book in (what will likely be) the Heist Society series from the keyboard of Ally Carter, author of the four volumes of the Gallagher Girls Series (which includes I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You and Only the Good Spy Young). Where the young-adult Gallagher series bears more than a little similarity to Jennifer Garner's television series "Alias," it's apparent from Heist Society that Carter is also more than a little fond of TNT's "Leverage" and the "Mission Impossible" oeuvre. You can't blame her for that - both are worthy of imitation (though perhaps less so for recent incarnations of MI).
Carter walks a fine line in creating a gang of art thieves as heroes of her novel, perhaps more so in casting all of them too young to vote. SHe had to, though, since the novel is aimed squarely at a young adult market, particularly girls who've outgrown "The Little Mermaid" but aren't yet ready for Chelsea Handler. Kat and her friends are prevented from seeming criminal both by comparison to the mob boss Toccano and by the fact that their intended second-story job is "for a good cause." In keeping with her intended audience, Carter keeps it clean by entirely avoiding blood, sex, and questionable language; though she's not above calling attention to leggy sixteen-year-olds in skirts that are too short and heels that are too high.
It's not great literature by any stretch of the imagination. Several characters' back stories are weak or non-existent (it is only 210 pages long) and the whole "Chelovek Pseudonima" bit makes MacGuffins seem complex. Still, it's fun and it moves along at a good pace, Kat's scam is nicely inventive, and the characters - even if they're career criminals who can't get a driver's license yet - are likeable. Carter also manages to sneak some history and a real-life mystery into her plot. Me, I liked it.
Rumors abound about a movie to be made from Heist Society, most of which whisper that Kat and her friends will be a few years older than they are in the book.
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