FindingJane

With its striking cover of a black-gloved pouty boy holding a fluffy white cat, “White Cat” launches the reader into slightly different territory. The protagonist is a “worker”, someone with forbidden powers—or is he? It’s a secret, both to the central character and the reader, and part of the thrill is finding out exactly what’s going on with him and his duplicitous family.

At times, it’s a struggle to like Barron, Philip, Cassel and their mother. They like duping people but you wonder that they’re lives aren’t better for it. They get tangled up with truly dangerous criminals, they grew up in a house filled with hoarded treasure piled in such haphazard fashion it’s more warren than home and Cassel’s attempts to be a normal and an upstanding citizen don’t prevent him from being a bookie at his upper-class school.

But Ms. Black shows how necessary their twisted values are, how the judgmental world they exist in doesn’t allow for differences unless they’re willing to bend the rules and force the system to work for them. They’re criminals but charming ones and, if they’re rigging the system, it’s only to keep it from squashing them.

Of course, as one character points out, everyone may look down on or fear workers, but everyone has always secretly wanted to be one, to wield powers beyond that of normal men. Ms. Black shows just how exciting, alluring and lonely such desires and powers can be.

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