Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter
As "Uncommon Criminals" opens, it is two months after the events of "Heist Society," and Kat has been going out on her own collecting artworks for Abiram Stein to return to their rightful owners. Kat has just returned from Moscow, where she rescued a Cezanne from the home of a former KGB officer, when an elderly woman approaches her and Hale saying that Visily Romani recommended Kat's services.
The woman goes on to say that her name is Constance Miller and that Visily Romani sent her. She needs Kat to steal back an emerald that had been stolen from her parents, who were archaeologists. The theory that her parents had held was that the emerald is one of a pair of identical emeralds that once belonged to Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The thief who stole it from them, Oliver Kelly, went on to build a financial empire of his own and kept the emerald in a vault in Switzerland. Kelly's grandson, also named Oliver, is bringing the emerald to New York City, where he plans to put it on display. Constance asks Kat to retrieve the emerald and since Visily Romani is involved, Kat cannot refuse.
Kat and Gabrielle do as good a job as they can of researching Constance. Constance is a recluse and the cousins cannot find any recent photographs of her, so they break into Constance's hotel room and rummage through her things. Everything they find in the room leads them to the conclusion that Constance is on the up-and-up and so they retrieve the emerald using a technique they refer to as "Alice in Wonderland," which involves dropping the emerald into an air duct in the floor. A duplicate of the emerald has been placed in the air duct, and so Gabrielle simply pulls out the duplicate and gives it to Kelly's people.
They deliver the emerald to Constance, and that's where the adventure really begins. They will go from New York City to Monte Carlo, with a side trip to Austria, to set things right.
I have to admit that the names that Carter gives to the cons that Kat and her crew consider (and occasionally use onscreen) are delightful. Among those referenced in this book are "Sleeping Beauty," "Humpty Dumpty," "Groundhog," and "Black-eyed Susan." We also see "Cinderella" and the aforementioned "Alice in Wonderland" in action.
One of the sources of tension is Kat's insistence that she doesn't need backup on the jobs she does for Abiram. All of her crew are angry at her for venturing out on her own. When Uncle Eddie says that he wants them to go to Uruguay (or is it Paraguay?), most of them see no reason to stay if Kat doesn't need them, and they go. Does Kat decide that the rest of her crew is right? You'll have to read the book to find out.
Kat and Hale's relationship progresses. I know that they will eventually become a couple, and there is definitely a part of me that thinks they could have the love of a lifetime here. I have always thought that best friends should make the best romantic partners. However, real life has made me a little more dubious. I married a childhood friend and we ended up divorced after 17 years. As a result, I don't know if the friendship that they have fostered is worth risking on a relationship that may end in tears in a decade or two. On the third hand, maybe a friendship that ended up as a failed romance would not have been a viable friendship at all.