Denise and Anna are 13-year-old students at an international school in Ireland who are keen to find a way of making some money. Their first enterprise is to arrange children’s parties. The worst that happens is when ‘a six-year-old super-model’ rejects the cake they have made for her birthday.
Their next venture is more ambitious but more problematic. They set up Instruments of Karma, an organisation that in return for a fee imposes punishments upon wrongdoers. Their first paid case involves stealing and hiding a boy’s homework, a scheme that passes off without undue trouble.
But then a first year asks them to exact redress from a girl she claims is guilty of racism. They respond by plastering her locker with accusatory slogans. And then the trouble begins. There is a massive hunt for the guilty parties and a special school assembly is held. The remainder of the book follows the gradual emergence of the truth, and describes how this experience changes the characters of Denise and Anna.
The narrative style of the book is bang up to date and spookily accurate. The girls have blogs and use predictive text messages. Hourican very expertly blends the modernity and freshness of the teenage voices with the investigative and admonitory adult voices while never allowing her text to lapse into didacticism. The experiences of the two protagonists are described with great authenticity. Teen readers will respond well to this novel’s characters and their vicissitudes.