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Heist Society (Heist Society #1) by Ally Carter

Updated on November 18, 2016

Katarina "Kat" Bishop comes from a family of thieves and con artists. And as befits the child of a family like this, when she tries to escape working as a con artist, she does it with a con. She manages to eliminate all of the competition for a spot at the Colgan Academy, one of the top prep schools in the United States. Since there is no competition, she gets the spot.

Ultimately, she falls by a con as well. Someone sets it up to look like she committed an act of vandalism on campus. She cannot prove that she didn't do it. Her best argument to defend herself would be an admission that she would have done a better job if she had done it, which would be a tremendous setback. As a result, she ends up abiding by the school's decision to expel her.

When her friend Hale (his full name is "W.W. Hale the Fifth" and she has no idea what those "W"s stand for) turns up to take her home, he tells her that he had to have her expelled so that she can rescue her father, who is suspected of a crime.

As he is a career criminal, Bobby Bishop is guilty of a lot of crimes; however, he swears he is not guilty of this one. The crime that he is accused of is stealing five priceless paintings from the home of an Italian criminal named Arturo Taccone. In fact, Bobby promises Kat that he was in Paris at the time stealing a completely different piece of art and thus he could not have been stealing priceless paintings in Italy.

Unfortunately, the only person who believes him is Kat. Together, she and Hale put together a team consisting of an assortment of other teenaged criminals to find the paintings and return them to Taccone before Taccone can kill her father.

Things become more complicated when the name "Visily Romani," which is a pseudonym used by a Robin-Hood-type thief who uses his skills to right wrongs, turns up. It turns out that the paintings in Taccone's collection were stolen from their rightful owners by the Nazis around the time of World War II. The first time Romani's name show up as part of a lead on the Taccone paintings, then later it shows up on a business card found in one of the most secure museums in the world.

Kat makes a leap of intuition that Romani put the Taccone paintings behind the five paintings in the room of the museum where he left his card. When she realizes that the paintings are in the museum, it falls to Kat and her crew to remove the paintings from the museum and somehow put everything to rights.

The rest of the book is, on the surface, at least, a heist story about a group of teenagers robbing the highest-security museum in the world. However, "Heist Society" is, at its heart, a book about a family. Kat's father is vital to the plot, as is her great-uncle Eddie and her cousin Gabrielle. However, ultimately, everyone in Kat's crew is her family in every way that counts.

With the sole exception of a couple of references to the "Mona Lisa," Carter made up nearly all of the artworks referenced in the book, which is kind of a pity because I would love to actually see these paintings with my own eyes. However, the fact that a hundreds of thousands of priceless works of art disappeared into the hand of the Nazis is true, and there are many pieces of art still missing. In fact, as I write this, there is a recent news story about seven pieces that were just returned to their rightful owner in France.

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