Seconds after twelve-year-old Smith picks the bulging pocket of an old gentleman, he hears footsteps in Curtis Alley, his planned path of escape. Two men in brown appear, and from the doorway where he is hiding, Smith witnesses the murder and violent search of his victim. Terrified, he flees the scene of the crime.
A quarter of a mile off Smith stops. What has he stolen that is worth the life of a man? He stares at his loot bitterly. It is a document—and Smith cannot read.
Leon Garfield’s crisp, exuberant writing brings new excitement and high adventure to the genre of historical fiction. The Who’s Who of Children’s Literature has called Smith “a graphic, breathtaking picture of England—and particularly London—with a handful of memorable, larger-than-life characters.”
Winner of the Phoenix Award A Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book
“Leon Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can’t stop reading him.” —Lloyd Alexander “It is a fine thing that Leon Garfield’s rip-roaring and funny tales should be brought back into circulation for a new generation of readers.” —Joan Aiken “Smith is one of the most interesting children’s books of the year—not only as a period tale, though in this respect it is superb, but also for the strong yet tender comment on the way people feel, now, then, and always.” —The Christian Science Monitor “I like to think that maybe a child of today—who was like the child I was yesterday (and millions of others like me)—will remember the first reading of Smith years from now and say: Yes, that’s the book that opened windows and doors for me, the pivotal book of my childhood.” —Robert Cormier
“Vivid characters, imagery, and atmosphere combine to make this a distinguished book for casual reading or for study.” —English Journal