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Book Reviews: ‘The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse’, by Caroline Lawrence

Book Reviews: ‘The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse’, by Caroline Lawrence
The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse by Caroline Lawrence
Series: The P.K.Pinkerton Mysteries #2
Published by Orion Children's on 7 June 2012
Format: Paperback

In the second in this adventure series, Virginia City's newest detective, P.K. Pinkerton, takes on his first case - finding the killer of a murdered girl before he strikes again!



Star rating: * * * *    4 out of 5  

I was really looking forward to this book because I LOVE the Roman Mysteries. I have read them all, and watched the TV series, and bought the DVDs!

I didn’t know about the PK Pinkerton Mysteries, so I was excited to find a whole new series by Caroline Lawrence and even more EXCITED that she sent me a book with my name in and a message that says ‘To Jodie. Watch your back!’

I was a bit worried when I first opened the book as it was not like the Roman Mysteries and it seemed harder to understand. I found lots of the words a bit tricky, but I think that is because I don’t hang out with cowboys and gamblers and people in saloons! After a while I got used to the words and they made me feel like I was in the cowboy times.

It was the first book I’ve ever read or heard of that is set in the Wild West and now I feel like I know a lot about it. I know people liked gambling and everyone used to carry guns and sometimes shoot people without getting into trouble! I think it would be fun to live in that time because I like wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats (I have a pink one!) and maybe I wouldn’t have to go to school, the same as PK (I hope none of my teachers read this!)

I also liked how PK Pinkerton made mistakes like a normal boy does. For example, PK thought Martha was telling him her hiding place but she was really telling him the name of the suspect. I also liked how he got confused that his description of the suspect seemed to describe everybody he met!

I got a bit sad when they thought PK Pinkerton was responsible for the fire as I was worried about what would happen to him. I’m glad he was okay in the end and I would like to read more P K Pinkerton stories in the future although they won’t be as good as this book because they won’t have a message to me in them from Caroline Lawrence :)




Star rating: * * * * *   5 out of 5  


If anyone wants a lesson in world-building, they can’t get better than a Caroline Lawrence book.

Her Roman Mysteries are so well-crafted they’re used as part of the ‘Romans’ curriculum in many junior schools, and her PK Pinkerton Mysteries paint an equally compelling portrait of the American West of the 1860s.

I read The Case of the Good Looking Corpse on a warm afternoon in the U.A.E., sitting on the terrace, gazing out over scrubland and scorched earth, and as I turned the pages I was there in that Wild West frontier town, with its prospectors, newspapermen, gunslingers and dancing girls. Caroline Lawrence recreates a society of people busy gambling, indulging ‘gentlemen callers’, and cheerfully murdering and racially abusing each other so skillfully that readers of all ages can access the details at a level which suits them.

This is largely due to the brilliant but naïve narrator, 12 year-old P.K Pinkerton, who spends the majority of the book ‘beneath the shadow of the hangman’s noose’, desperately trying to solve the murderer of Short Sally and convince the jury not to hang him by the neck until he’s dead.

I’m a sucker for quirky fictional characters like PK, who help kids understand that it’s cool to be unique and that having a different kind of brain can lead to better, more creative answers. (Another fantastic example is Ted, from Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery).

In today’s world, PK would have a label and a diagnosis. In 1860s Nevada, he simply has Foibles, Eccentricities and Thorns – including a problem with reading faces and a dislike of being touched – all of which make for an original and frequently hilarious narrator.

There is also a special treat for book lovers in the subtle addition of the character of Sam Clements – whose role has a special significance for those familiar with Mark Twain. It is no understatement to say that I LOVED this book and wouldn’t hesitate to give it 5 stars.



Find out more in our fascinating interview with Caroline Lawrence, where she explains how she made the book feel so authentic, and also at Caroline’s own website


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