To Trap A Thief by Des Hunt
Since the sudden death of Connor’s dad in an aviation accident two years ago, it’s just been him and his Mum. But now she’s got a new boyfriend, Morgan, and they want to get married. But that’s not the worst of it – Morgan’s parents aren’t keen on the idea of the marriage and they arrive to make sure everyone knows it. To escape from the tense situation, Morgan’s father Denzil suggests he and Connor go for a walk. After a run in with a local hooligan, a trip to the Lotto shop changes everything.
So begins the premise for To Trap A Thief, the latest offering from well-known New Zealand author Des Hunt.
The intriguing quest story runs from Bulls in the North Island, and down to the Wellington ferry terminal where an altercation starts. The story then moves on to the top of the South Island, and goes on to feature fraudsters trying to steal money, strange quests that involve riddles and prizes, and, ultimately, revenge.
It is an action-packed story – Hunt manages to pack in loud explosions, lassos, bike chases, fossils, helicopters, drones, boats. You name it, Connor and his best friend Harvey try it.
Despite the full-on action and intense plot, it is an easy read and will attract even the most reluctant of readers. With strong action, gaming, and biking themes set into an instantly recognisable New Zealand backdrop, Hunt pitches it perfectly to those children that so often begin to drop off reading – namely boys between the ages of 10 and 15.
While it is obviously not ‘just for boys’, the two main characters are two young boys. The best friends are relatable, recognisable and loveable. Hunt represents their friendship realistically – it is not all sunshine and roses. The pair fight and quarrel and don’t always see eye-to-eye, just like real life. They draw from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and in the end it is through team work that their mission is complete.
It was also nice to see an intergenerational step-family relationship reflected on the pages. Our young readers need to see their real life reflected back to them on the pages of their books, and this book does that well. Hunt doesn’t shy away from the awkward situation. Again, there are dramas and dislikes, adjustments and anger between all the characters. The tension between Connor and the adults in his life is resolved, but, once again it isn’t done perfectly like a fairy tale. It is raw, complicated and a good reflection of reality.
To Trap A Thief quintessential Hunt book that is full of action and a distinct Kiwi flavour.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Published by Scholastic