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The New Cut Gang: The Gas-Fitters' Ball Paperback – Illustrated, 26 Nov 1998
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In Thunderbolt's Waxwork we are introduced to the New Cut gang, a rag tag group of mischievous children who want to be detectives. In their first "case" they are determined to track down the person behind a spate of counterfeit coins doing the rounds in Lambeth. Thunderbolt's dad has been arrested but they are sure it couldn't be him who was making the coins - can they find a way to prove it and have him released from prison?
The Gas-Fitters' Ball continues the adventures of the New Cut gang, this time they are on the hunt for a burglar - someone has stolen the Gas-Fitters' silver trophies and the gang are intent on finding out who. Can they beat the police to find the burglar?
I absolutely loved the characters that make up the New Cut gang. You have leader Benny who has an imagination that often runs away with him and comes up with crazy plans bound to get them all in trouble, then there is Sam (AKA Thunderbolt) - he is the smart and studious one, Bridie is the hot tempered red head with a heart of gold who is always looking out for the others and her little brother Sharkie Bob who was probably my favourite. A lot younger than the others he tags along wherever they go eating everything in sight. You can't forget the Peretti twins Angela and Zerlina who may look like angels but you wouldn't want to end up on their bad side.
The stories themselves are fun and lighthearted adventures that had me laughing out loud as I read them. They're perfect for bedtime reading and will be enjoyed by both children and adults. The Victorian setting is well done and I loved the use of British slang. I read on Philip Pullman's website that there were originally going to be 6 stories about the New Cut gang and I really hope he gets time to write the remaining 4 - I'll be first in the queue to buy them if he does!