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Bring Me the Head of Oliver Plunkett: Eddie & the Gang with No Name    by Colin Bateman order for
Bring Me the Head of Oliver Plunkett
by Colin Bateman
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Place - Newgate Prison, London 1681. Oliver Plunkett, Primate of All Ireland, was removed from the cell where he had been incarcerated for years, taken to the gallows and hung. Place - Drogheda, modern day Ireland. In St. Peter's Church, children from the St. Oliver Plunkett Home for Boys are gathered to observe Saint Oliver's preserved head. Pat Rice comments: 'Preserved? ... He looks more like a bloody coconut.' The elderly pope is to arrive in four days time to bless the head, and 'wouldn't it be a grand thing if we had an Irish pope the next time round?' asks Mr. Reilly.

Pat and his friend Sean sneak out of their rooms to the church for another glimpse of the head. They hear noises and hide, witnessing four men stealing the case and sacred relic. Pat reports the theft, and so begins his journey. He abandons the orphanage, and travels to Belfast to find and return the head of Oliver Plunkett. After all, if the head is not in St. Peter's Church when the pope arrives, there will be trouble and no chance for the next pope to be chosen from Ireland. 'Pat was on a mission from God.' Upon arrival, Pat is followed by Belfast Telegraph reporter James Matchitt. He's after scoop on the head, while Pat wants to remain an anonymous runaway. And the thieves are demanding a bundle of money in exchange for the remains of Oliver Plunkett.

Place - Belfast, Ireland. Eddie Malone thinks big. He sees himself as head of a group bigger than the Mafia - he'd be 'respected ... and solve problems, at the right price'. Now though, he only rules his apartment when Mum isn't around. His 'No Name Gang' includes himself and girlfriend Mo. Eddie's enrolled in Brown's Academy. He has to walk daily to the train station, through the Rivers Estate, home of the ruling gang, the 'Reservoir Pups', led by Captain Black. One day, Eddie is stopped by two gang members, ordering him to get close to Ivan Cutler at Brown's. Ivan is the blind son of wealthy, powerful Scarface Cutler (he got his name for putting scars on other faces!) Eddie is befriended by Gary, who (along with Pat from the orphanage) brings his gang up to four members. After an accidental explosion in Brown's lab starts a fire, Scarface is indebted to Eddie for rescuing Ivan.

The 'No Name Gang' believes the head was stolen by Scarface Cutler's group. Eddie's gang takes action at Ivan's birthday party. They plan to make a terrific bang! A humdinger, walloping blast! Possibly collect some reward money, and outdo Captain Black's gang. But of course things go awry. Bring Me the Head of Oliver Plunkett is a deliriously, funny (and scary) romp written with imagination, fast-pacing, outstanding characterizations, and lessons in true friendship and doing the right thing - even if it doesn't go according to plan. Colin Bateman lives in Ireland and has written thirteen novels for adults. This book for young adults is the companion to Running with the Reservoir Pups.

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