The book starts off with two girls named Jane and Hannah who witness a murder. (At first, I thought Robert was referring to Jane Oxford from the previous instalment, and I wish it was, it would've given him a chance to redeem himself.) Then it cuts back to campus for a while before sending James and Dave on a mission that I thought was better, because this time it's a mystery. A strongman named Leon Tarasov who had a very rough past with the law has all of a sudden made a fortune while he was in debt, and the significance of this money is connected to a casino robbery, though nothing is direct. This may also be connected to Will Clarke, who people say committed suicide by jumping off a ledge. Some say different. But is everything as it seems? Essentially, it's a mission to see how Leon got all his money.
So when I opened this book, I felt I was probably going to dislike it, but it starts off good, James and some pals on a mission they don't really screw up but get into hot water with and I waited for the big yell from their leaders that never came. And something I hate about the Cherub books was how pretty much every girl is cranky, repulsive and a show-off. In The Blacktop Brothers, the main character is a girl because I felt it would be easier to have sympathy for one being bullied than a boy, but here it's the other way around, and I don't think it's funny. Mr. Large is still out there and being terrible, but after a little battle at the end, I felt I was going to give this book thumbs up. I felt it was too good to be true. But then it shoots itself back down immensely, with a scene involving Kerry. I hate that girl even more than Mr. Large now. Everything about her, even her name. This afternoon, after I finished up the book, I drew a picture of her getting her brains sucked out of her in major pain by Michael Vey's Nichelle. I may sound violent, but I want her dead, and I want to kill her myself so I can see her face. What's more, James loves her and while James is my favourite and maybe only favourite character, I found him extra dumb for ever thinking Kerry had one redeeming quality. She sucks the positivity out of the whole Cherub series. Not that Cherub is a positive series. Infact, it couldn't be more negative if it had another neutron.
The best thing I can say is that Robert knows how to make simple police gadgets and criminal common sense interesting. There is a game at the start that's like Capture the Flag, and it was entertaining and even. And the extra quality about this book, other than the mystery, is how there's a bent cop that we see get some mystery into him. I was worried it would be another upsetting thing that wouldn't happen. Even though I find it cheesy that James can talk to the officers he's working with during a mission without anyone else finding out, it's enjoyable keeping up the conversations.
The major problem I had out of all was the ending, however. I won't spoil it, but it's all the more proof just like the last few, that Cherub would've been a menacing and horrid campus. Each of these books ends with someone getting a prison sentence, and if you read The Rig, you'll know that each prisoner gets five years on that place, and in cherub, people discuss how 4-6 years is too short, even James is huffed by this. Really? It's further fact that the government doesn't understand how long a year actually is. Plus, a part of the mission involves breaking something significant, and it's strategic but evil for the good guys. A mother points out that her daughter could've died and if she ever found who did it, she'd grab a knife and stick it. Indirectly, Robert is once again insulting honestly his own work and yet he lets the people get away with it. And finally, there's a cruddy decision James makes that could've been cleaned up easy as pie, but decides not to do for a reason you won't believe, a word that rhymes with Dairy in the mix.
I'm going to stop talking about this book now. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. I felt this book went in a pattern:
Good, Bad, Good, Bad, Good, Bad, Good, Bad, Good, Good, Bad, Bad, Good, Bad, Bad. It's better than the last three and I was close to recommending it most of the time, bottom line. The other bottom line is I just don't like these books.