The readymade thief A novel

Augustus Rose

Book - 2017

"Lee Cuddy is 17 years old and on the run. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all. Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has s...truck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city... But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she's trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her--and why."--

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Subjects
Genres
Thrillers (Fiction)
Suspense fiction
Published
New York, New York : Viking [2017]
Language
English
Physical Description
374 pages : illustration ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780735221833
0735221839
Main Author
Augustus Rose (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Rose's inventive debut novel follows shy Lee as she learns that her gift for remaining undetected makes her a queen of the five-finger discount. Lee's shoplifting prowess catches the attention of Edie, a popular girl at school, whose friendship opens a door to boys, drugs, and parties. But all this quickly evaporates after a drug bust and Edie's betrayal, which lands Lee in juvie. Inside, she discovers a secret ward for deeply disturbed teens, whose souls seem to have vacated their earthly shells. In quick succession, Lee escapes from solitary and stumbles upon a hideout for homeless runaways known as the Crystal Castle, with its enigmatic, cultlike leader, the Station Master. Ominous connections between her new crowd and the kids in the mental ward bubble to the surface, as a swirling conspiracy reveals itself, with none other than surrealist mastermind Marcel Duchamp lurking at its center. With dynamic characters and unforgettable scenes, including after-hours museum sex, mysterious pursuers, and wondrous evasions, Rose's captivating, art-anchored pager-turner reads like a mashup of Home Alone and The Da Vinci Code (2003). Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

It's a bit of a challenge to describe this first novel, which feels a little like David Mitchell wrote The Da Vinci Code and mixed in a bit from Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers. Seventeen-year-old Lee Cuddy would probably be the first to tell you that she's no model kid. She steals, sells drugs, and has had more than her fair share of run-ins with the police. Still, she has good grades and plans for the future, including college with her best friend Edie. But when Lee takes the fall for a drug deal gone bad, her college plans evaporate and she finds herself homeless and on the run from both the law and a shady underground organization that believes she possesses something of great importance. Enter Tomi, a gifted hacker, who takes Lee under his wing and introduces her to urban exploration and the art world, all while evading those who pursue them. Rose has created an excellent twisty plot set against a richly textured backdrop, but his characters feel a bit sketched. We don't get to know Lee particularly well, and the people around her feel a bit like foils to help move the story along. But what a story it is! VERDICT Give this one to readers looking for an unputdownable literary summer escape. [See Prepub Alert, 2/20/17.]—Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Lib., IL Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The 17-year-old heroine of Rose's debut novel, a richly detailed intellectual thriller set in contemporary Philadelphia, has already been through an adventurous childhood and adolescence when she ends up in juvie, set up by a former friend for a crime she hasn't committed. Not that Lee Cuddy hasn't earned her stay there: a natural-born shoplifter, she has also sold enough drugs to accumulate thousands of dollars in cash. Escaped from prison, she winds up in a creepy, cultish home for runaways and then goes on the lam with Tomi, a gentle Czech boy who has a talent for data retrieval, a taste for urban exploration, and a passion for the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp (whose "readymades" cemented the idea that ordinary objects could be considered art if their assembler defined them as such). After Lee steals a satchel from the office of the cult leader, she finds herself pursued by the mysterious Societe Anonyme, which is involved in the production of designer drugs. While Rose may put in one too many obscure references to alchemy and unified field theory, Lee is an excellent character, and the many shadowy settings she travels through make for a fascinating vision of an alternate, underground Philadelphia. (Aug.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Reluctantly accepting refuge with a group of runaways squatting in a derelict building, seventeen-year-old Lee Cuddy discovers that a secret society of fanatics is behind the suspicious disappearances of street kids in Philadelphia.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"For fans of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, an arresting literary puzzle that introduces an unforgettable young heroine plunged into the twisted world of a secret society occupying the derelict buildings of Philadelphia, which heralds the arrival of an astoundingly imaginative and propulsive new voice in fiction. Lee Cuddy is 17 years old and on the run, alone on the streets of Philadelphia. After taking the fall for a rich friend, Lee reluctantly accepts refuge in the Crystal Castle--a cooperative ofhomeless kids squatting in an austere, derelict building. But homeless kids are disappearing from the streets of Philadelphia in suspicious numbers, and Lee quickly discovers that the secret society's charitable facade is too good to be true. She finds an unexpected ally in Tomi, a young artist and hacker whose knowledge of the Internet's black market is rivaled only by his ability to break into and out of buildings. From abandoned aquariums to highly patrolled museums to the homes of vacationing Philadelphians, Tomi and Lee can always chart a way to the next, perfect hide-out"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Reluctantly accepting refuge in a cooperative home for homeless kids after taking the fall for a rich friend, Lee discovers that the too-good-to-be-true charity establishment is a front for a secret society of fanatics that are behind the disappearances of street teens.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“The most must-read of all must-reads.” —Marie Claire“A kickass debut from start to finish.” —Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground RailroadLee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run.  Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.   Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families. But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.   A novel of puzzles, conspiracies, secret societies, urban exploration, art history, and a singular, indomitable heroine, The Readymade Thief heralds the arrival of a spellbinding and original new talent in fiction.