Pretty Bad Things

Publisher: Chicken House

Sixteen-year old Candy-Store crime spree twins, Paisley and Beau Argent are in the headlines again. Last time, they were the 'wonder twins', when as six-year-olds they were found alive in woods after three days missing following their mother's death - three days spent looking for their dad. Now at sixteen, life's not so wonderful. Out-cast and exploited by their money-grabbing grandmother they're still clueless about their dad's whereabouts - until they discover an old letter from him. That's when they decide to hit the road - and make headlines again. Holding up fast-food joints in Las Vegas might seem extreme but if they can get on the news, and tell their dad they need him, they might get the dream reunion they never thought could happen.

C J Skuse sets her debut novel in the US, using alternating chapters from each twin to recount the past and relay the events of the present. The voices of the characters always ring true, and readers will be gripped as the novel builds to a dramatic denouement, in which our expectations of family and loyalty are shockingly challenged, leaving us uncertain whether to anticipate a future of hope or despair. This is a 21st century coming-of-age story, with echoes of Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye.

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