12 year old Nickel is as precocious as Artemis Fowl, and just as jaded, if not more. Having been betrayed by adults in one of the worst ways possible, this streetwise kid lives on his own, makes a living growing weed and managing the distribution of it, and catches wanna be paedophiles (blackmailing them for money and turning them into the FBI anyway!). It is into his twilight fringe world that we accompany him on perhaps his riskiest venture yet. When a 12 year old girl goes missing, her older sister contacts the shadowy Nickel to come to her aid. Her parents think she ran away, but her sister Arrow is certain there is something else afoot. With his own sordid past and a deep seated need to avenge himself and fellow foster children who suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to care for them, Nickel accepts the case. Soon he is knee deep in troubles as this case forces him to rely not only on his own wits, but the few adults he can trust, all the while juggling other cases and his little side enterprises.
While Nickel is only 12 and the other protagonists are by and large under the age of 16, the nature of Nickel's activities and the depictions of sex related crimes make this a title decidedly for the over 15's. As an adult I found understanding Nickel's childlike emotions and growing self awareness as he experiences the first flush of his own approaching manhood, while as a parent I found myself horrified at his living conditions, the criminal acts perpetuated upon the children in the novel, and exasperation at the all too familiar common self-centredness of others. It did not fail to keep my attention, and I actually finished this in one sitting. One hopes that this is not Nickel's last case, and that we meet him again as he grows up and hopefully turns the tables on bad guys in ways that would have the Home Alone kid green with envy.