Jonah Wish, the central character in Stephen Cole's new young adult novel, Thieves Like Us, has been shuttled between foster homes for most of his life, finding his only refuge inside the bits and bytes of his computer. When he finally settles in a home he likes, things turn unexpectedly sour and he resorts to computer fraud in an effort to set things right. Instead, he ends up in prison the Young Offenders Institution, to be exact and we meet him two months into a one-year sentence. The prison is a mind-numbing, frightening place, but our protagonist won't be here for long, because a gang unlike any he's ever imagined is about to break him out.

First at Jonah's door, picking the lock to his cell, in fact, is Patch, a one-eyed 14-year-old wizard of tumblers; helping him is Con, a willowy beauty who can mesmerize you in more ways than one; Motti, the oldest of the bunch at 21, who knows his way around an electrical circuit; and Tye, a Caribbean girl who's a human lie detector.

They're all in the employ of a mysterious benefactor named Coldhardt, and they've plucked Jonah from prison to join them on a caper that would do Indiana Jones proud. It turns out that Coldhardt has assembled this unlikely band to acquire a 4,000-year-old formula that might be the secret to eternal youth.

What follows is an adventure that takes our youthful band through daring escapades all over Europe and the Fertile Crescent. (A word of warning: off-color language, hints of teenage sexuality and some violence are included in the journey.) With a delightfully convoluted plot, and a slam-bang ending as good as any blockbuster movie, Thieves Like Us is a Mission Impossible for teenagers, sure to keep even the most reluctant readers turning the pages.

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