The Adventures of the Flash Gang: Episode One: Exploding Experiment

The Adventures of the Flash Gang
Publisher Name
Fitzroy Books
Age Range
10+
Release Date
March 21, 2023
ISBN13
978-1646033225
ISBN10 or ASIN
      
That brief, blinding dazzle? The blue smudge and lingering stink? The Flash Gang has struck again! They are the most notorious thieves in Pittsburgh, food-stealing crooks the police and newspapers say are highly trained and very dangerous. But eleven-year-old Lewis Carter isn't a thief, he's just homeless and hungry. The flash is a recipe he invented from bits of his missing father's scientific research. He uses it to pinch his dinners. It's been going pretty well, until now...Now his recipe is stolen, and he is in the clutches of some rather nasty people. Enter tutu-wearing, starry-eyed, and all around extraordinary (she will tell you) Pearl Alice Clavell. She is on a mission to uncover a Nefarious Deed she's convinced involves the Flash Gang. Rescuing Lewis is right up her alley. Truth is, a Nefarious Deed is afoot, one that threatens the entire country. It will take Lewis and Pearl joining forces to save the recipe and themselves against an enemy who will stop at nothing, including kidnapping, and, very possibly, murder.

Editor review

1 review
Unlikely friends stick together
(Updated: December 20, 2022)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Lewis is immediately cast as a sympathetic character due to being a streeter, not an orphan, in 1935 Pittsburgh. It’s not his fault that his father disappears, leaving Lewis to fend for himself, and Lewis has done quite well so far. The whole city is unaware that he alone is the notorious Flash Gang and he finds humor when others exaggerate his escapades. He uses the Recipe to distract store owners while stealing food to feed himself and to donate to St. Patrick’s soup kitchen. He lives in an abandoned factory and is constantly on the lookout for coppers who might dump him in an orphanage. Dangerous people are hunting for him so readers will root for this underdog character living on the streets.
The plot reads like a mystery as Lewis slowly discovers clues about his missing father and the Recipe. The Recipe mixes two ingredients to cause a bright flash of disorienting light but some bad people plan to add a third ingredient to make it more powerful. A large man kidnaps Lewis after demanding the boy hand over the piece of paper in his pocket. Lewis has no idea how the man knows his name, knows he’s the Flash Gang, and knows that he holds the Recipe. A girl named Pearl shares information about her aunt’s involvement with the bulldog (the hired kidnapper) and it just creates more questions for Lewis. He doesn’t believe his father is dead so maybe he’s been kidnapped too. His father can’t be part of the Nefarious Deed that Pearl keeps talking about, can he?
The show-stopper in the book is Pearl, although it’s difficult to get a true understanding of her character early on. She helps Lewis escape after he’s captured but he can’t find a way to get rid of her and her aggravating personality. She exaggerates (maybe lies) quite a bit so readers will have trouble figuring out her background. Lewis certainly does. She claims to be a kidnapped heiress whose father is off on an adventure somewhere in the world although she can’t remember where. Her bright pink tutu makes it hard to stay inconspicuous and her enthusiastically loud voice is a problem when trying to sneak around. Pearl is a rabid fan of a weekly radio show and fancies herself as an astute detective. Lewis tells her his name but she calls him Sir Nigel throughout, referring to a character in the program. Her quirky enthusiasm and tendency for hyperbole and drama add refreshing humor and color to the engaging plot.
What didn’t work as well:
Pearl’s mistaken assumptions and a tendency for hyperbole make the underlying events more challenging to decipher. Some of her statements are based on facts so readers will need to use their deductive reasoning to blend her thoughts with Lewis’s observations. Successful readers will slowly piece together the puzzle and solve the mystery of the Nefarious Deed.
The Final Verdict:
Lewis and Pearl form an unlikely pair but their colorful relationship is extremely entertaining. The mystery surrounding the Recipe will intrigue readers and the chases and skirmishes with dangerous criminals add to the excitement. I highly recommend you give this book a shot.
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