When Jake Drake gets mugged twice in ten minutes, he comes up with a plan to con the criminals on his estate. With the help of his closet pals, he starts a rumour about a new gangster in town - the Big Baresi, the biggest, gangster that never was. The con works, but not for long, as events start snow-balling out of control. Soon Jake and his gang are in trouble. Big trouble. Facing total meltdown, and stuck with a freezer full of diamonds every bad-guy wants a scoop of.
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JIMMY DOCHERTY is an award-winning advertising copywriter and television commercial director. He lives in Glasgow, Scotland.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6–8—Set in a tough, crime-ridden housing project in Glasgow, this novel opens with 12-year-old Jake Drake getting kicked in the groin and mugged twice in 10 minutes, losing the money meant to buy his Gran's food. Jake and his friends decide they have had enough and will fight back against the local crime bosses by creating a fake gangster, the Big Baresi. By spreading rumors of this biggest, baddest thug ever, the con works, but soon things spiral out of control. A lot is going on in this novel: Jake and his buddies steal an 18-wheeler full of sumo suits and get in a gunfire battle with corrupt police; an ex-convict looking for $3 million in diamonds returns to the project; the boys steal $20,000 that then is stolen from them; and, finally, they steal an ice-cream van. All works out in the end, with Jake being instrumental in getting the community center rebuilt so that residents young and old have a place to gather. The end is set up for the reappearance of the Big Baresi in a sequel. The theme of kids taking control and showing adults how to make things better is a good one, although the means the characters employ to do so are questionable at best. While humorous in tone, there is much that is crude and objectionable here. Preadolescent boys will no doubt giggle over Jake's flatulent Gran, whose "butt trumpeting" is renowned. But fighting, belching, and farting on nearly every page gets a bit old.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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