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Capers and Heists

2013 June 28
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Image by The Imperfect Traveller

Image by The Imperfect Traveller

I must admit, I have always loved stories of capers and heists. Some of my all-time favorite movies are the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn caper Charade, To Catch a Thief, the original Thomas Crown Affair, and How To Steal A Million. And capers and heists are just as fun on the page as they are on film. They have everything: humor, elaborate plans, gadgets, unexpected plot twists, suspense, thrills, exotic settings, I could go on and on. There is a nearly endless supply of caper and heist books for all ages, but below you’ll find some examples that I hope will appeal to both readers who already love the genre and those who are trying it for the first time.

Money Run by Jack Heath
If you enjoy pulse-pounding stories, you can hardly do better than this book. Originally published in 2008, it was released in the US this spring and is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that follows Ashley “Ash” Arthur as she tries to steal millions from a rich target. It reads like a summer action movie, making it a perfect vacation read! Even better, it also clearly leaves the door open for more adventures with the same characters (another book has already been released outside of the US), so hopefully there are many more heists in store for Ash and her partner Benjamin.

heist societyHeist Society by Ally Carter
In a similar vein, Ally Carter’s series about Katrina Bishop, a reluctant art thief born into the business on both her mother’s and her father’s side of the family, is an entertaining combination of art, friendship, and robbery. The first in the series, a 2010 Teens’ Top Ten and 2011 Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults, takes Kat and her crew of friends and family around the world in two weeks to “resteal” some art in an effort to protect her art thief father. With exotic locales, entertaining characters, and just a dash of history, it will definitely keep you entertained, and best of all, if you love it, there are already two more books in the series, Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels.

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn
This book is another fun example of an art heist in an exciting foreign locale. This time, the action is set in both Seattle and Japan, as Violet spends the summer while her artist father finishes a commission for a wealthy patron. When his patron has several pieces of art stolen, Violet is drawn into the search for the artwork.

also known asAlso Known As by Robin Benway
While not about a thief, this book about a teenage spy who is an expert safecracker nevertheless includes plenty of break-ins with suspenseful moments as Maggie embarks on her first solo mission as a spy. Better yet, the book also includes great supporting characters (including a hilarious best friend), laugh-out-loud moments and a fun fish-out-of-water plot as Maggie tries to blend in at her new high school. In addition to being perfect for fans of capers and heists, this book is also great for those who enjoy spy novels.

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala
For those who prefer graphic novels, there are a few great options. This first example is a fun and somewhat mysterious story about K., a girl who has been trained in the art of burglary since she was a young child in an orphanage run by a woman who forced all of the children to work as pickpockets and thieves. Now older and once again being used by the adults around her for her unique skills, K. meets other teenage girls who have also been trained as thieves. The illustrations in the book make the group’s heists even more suspenseful and engaging.

templar jordam mechner pham puvilland coverTemplar by Jordan Mechner (with illustrations by LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland)
For those who enjoy historical fiction, this upcoming graphic novel that focuses on the time period when the Knights Templar were coming under fire throughout Europe is a great read. It follows one knight as he evades capture and is pulled into a scheme to find the elusive treasure that the Templars are supposed to have secreted away. Pursued by both those who would like to punish him for his involvement with Templars and those who want the treasure for themselves, the band of knights and thieves must come up with an elaborate plan to find and steal the fortune. With great artwork and a compelling story, graphic novel fans will want to keep an eye out for this one when it is released in early July.

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne
This upcoming novel will be perfect for fans of capers and heists. Set in Boston, the book uses the real facts of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist as a jumping off point for a story of family, friendship and theft. It follows Moxie as she discovers that her beloved grandfather, whom she always knew had been involved with illegal activities, is actually responsible for hiding away the artwork stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990. Now that he suffers from Alzheimer Disease, she doesn’t want to involve her grandfather when associates of those who originally stole the art come and demand their loot back. While searching for the missing artwork, Moxie and her best friend Ollie are simultaneously dealing with the fact that this is their last summer before high school, making this a perfect read for those who are facing this transition themselves or remember it all too well.

Are you a fan of books about capers and heists? Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

– Carli Spina, currently reading Ink by Amanda Sun

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