A fast read, this novel is a fun peek into France in the early sixties. The language is simple, and the story focus small. I'll admit, I didn't fall in love, but I had fun reading while it lasted.
The novel centers around Charlie, the main character, who is the young, soft-spoken son of an important diplomat. Mostly left to his own devices, Charlie spends his days avoiding his tutor and exploring downtown Marseilles.
One day Charlie witnesses a robbery and realizes in the same moment that he was one of the robbers' marks. Excited by his proximity to the crime, Charlie defends one of the criminals to the local police, thereby earning himself an unexpected friend.
I remember the feeling, from my childhood, of becoming involved in a secret dream, and then allowing that dream to take hold and let a deeper part of myself grow into being. Colin Meloy captures that same excitement and determination in this novel. Charlie has found a country to which he wants to belong, a gang to which he wants membership, and he sets about trying to become one of the whiz mob.
The illustrations in the novel are done by Colin Meloy's wife, Carson Ellis. They're unique, stylistic vision of the book lends the story a strong aesthetic that only further's the novel's comprehensive world-building.
My favorite part of The Whiz Mob was that the author rifled my pockets twice, totally by surprise. Misdirection works! I appreciate when a book can do the thing it purports to be telling a story about, and with all eyes watching, it's a pretty sleight-of-hand. Final word: if you're headed to the beach, take this book along for a bit of mischievous, totally harmless fun.
Coranna Adams is a writer, filmmaker, and educator from Asheville, North Carolina.