When Julie wakes up in the hospital, surrounded by strangers, all she can recall is basking in the beauty of the Scottish countryside. Then someone cracked her head open.
As Julie recovers, her memory slowly returns and she begins to piece together the mystery and a much larger puzzle involving the history and prejudice of her neighbors in Elizabeth Wein’s “The Pearl Thief.”
The year is 1938 and with the death of the Earl of Strathfearn, Julie’s grandfather, comes great change. His ancient estate must be sold off to pay his debts. This includes his lands, where Julia spent her sunny childhood summers, and the Murray Hoard: a collection of treasures including the rare pearls only found in Scottish river mussels that dwell in the estate’s rivers.
Julie and her family return to estate to say goodbye to the land when her horrible incident occurs. After she is saved by a poor Highland Traveller family, Julie and her brother become fast friends with their teenage children.
The ethnic group they belong is considered a pariah throughout Scotland and the bigoted hatred against Julie’s new friends increases as more details about Julie’s accident emerge, including accusations when a suicide turns out to be a murder, and the hoard of priceless pearls goes missing.
“The Pearl Thief” has an intriguing plot that combines mystery and coming of age theme, and is set in a unique and beautiful setting. Julie’s passion and determination make her personality and character shine as she tackles the prejudices around her, and the mystery, in order to save her friends and the honor of her family.
`While the novel is a prequel to “Code Name Verity,” it stands alone as an independent and utterly intriguing read.