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Publisher's Summary

When magistrate Patrick Colquhoun orders a habitual thief and ne'er-do-well transported to Botany Bay, he doesn't realize a 14-year-old boy has been left behind to follow in his father's footsteps - not until young John Pickett is hauled into Bow Street for stealing an apple from the produce market at Covent Garden.
Feeling to some extent responsible for the boy, Mr. Colquhoun prevails upon Elias Granger, a prosperous coal merchant, to take him on as an apprentice. For the next five years, John Pickett hauls coal in exchange for room and board. The work is dirty and hard, but the drudgery is lightened by the occasional deliveries to Bow Street, where Mr. Colquhoun usually tosses Pickett a coin for his pains. An even more pleasant diversion exists in the form of Mr. Granger's pert daughter Sophy, with whom Pickett tumbles headlong into love.
And then one day 19-year-old John Pickett stumbles by accident into a criminal investigation that will bring him once again to the attention of Bow Street for an entirely different reason, and will change the course of his life.
©2015 Sheri Cobb South (P)2016 Sheri Cobb South
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Critic Reviews

"It's impossible to choose which of narrator Joel Froomkin’s skills is better - his expert narrative or his spirited portrayals of the vast array of eccentric figures in this historical novel... Well-delivered subtle humor and clever wordplay add to this fascinating tale as Pickett thrives and grows." (AudioFile)  
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By korinka on 10-14-16

Delicious language, wonderful narrator

I knew this book will be a perfect fit for me. It happened when I heard this in the audio sample: "He hauled by the collar of a shabby grey coat a scrawny individual who appeared to be disinclined to bear him company."

See, this is what I love in good regency stories. The language. Why say "he looked like he didn't want to be there" when you can (and should) say it so... beautifully! Sheri Cobb South, you speak the quirky language of my tribe :)

When it comes to the plot of this prequel, it's more of an origin story than a mystery novel - but there is a brush with crime here too, of course. It focuses on John Pickett's childhood and adolescence, and on the kindness of his benefactor, so rare in those times.

The characters Sheri Cobb South drawn for us are very likeable and there is a subtle sense of humor weaved in. Also, Joel Froomkin, the narrator, is stunning. He can do accents, quirky voices, all sorts of them. He's really, really good.

Give this a listen and the first full length novel will have far more richness for you. And you should definitely read that one... but that's for another review :)

My heartfelt thanks to the author, narrator, or publisher for providing me this audiobook via Audiobook Boom at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Agatha Istanbul on 01-13-17

The first in the John Pickett series

Sheri Cobb South truly has a good imagination, and the skill to bring her imagination to life in a very real way. I actually read the 2nd book (in paperback) "In Milady's Chamber" first, and then found out that this novella is the prequel, so I've just listened to it on Audible. What a great story, and great character development. I am very impressed with the books of Ms. South that I've read so far (4 of them) because her characters are so interesting. She infuses the various situations that her characters are involved in with insight and very funny wit and humor. I find myself laughing out loud often while reading her books. Joel Froomkin is a wonderful narrator, and I wish he would narrate all of her books. Besides reading the first two books in the John Pickett series, I've also read the first two books in the Ethan Brundy series. There are only 3 books in that series - so far - and I very much hope that Ms. South will write more! But Joel Froomkin should be her narrator of choice as he is so very good! It might get him away from those awful vampire books he's been narrating so far....
Sheri Cobb South makes the reader fall in love with her characters, even if they start out as criminals or bumpkins or snobs. I hope that Ms. South will have a long and prolific career in writing. Her books are well worth the read - or listen!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Inishowen Cailin on 11-06-16

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The magistrate and John were my favourite characters. I liked the magistrates philanthropic ways and John's innocent nature.
I loved the story surrounding John's childhood and his experiences with his job and the family who had taken him in.

What about Joel Froomkin’s performance did you like?

I enjoyed the various accents performed by the narrator. I thought the narration was done very well. Well paced, easy to listen to and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

Any additional comments?

I received a copy via audio book boom in exchange for an honest review.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Rogayah on 10-23-16


John Pickett's lucky childhood takes him from almost being punished for stealing an apple in Covent Garden to becoming a thief taker. A good story with social background about the early 19th century.

Interesting and I think following Pickett's career is worth it.

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