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Publisher's Summary

When magistrate Patrick Colquhoun orders a habitual thief and ne'er-do-well transported to Botany Bay, he doesn't realize a 14-year-old boy has been left behind to follow in his father's footsteps - not until young John Pickett is hauled into Bow Street for stealing an apple from the produce market at Covent Garden.

Feeling to some extent responsible for the boy, Mr. Colquhoun prevails upon Elias Granger, a prosperous coal merchant, to take him on as an apprentice. For the next five years, John Pickett hauls coal in exchange for room and board. The work is dirty and hard, but the drudgery is lightened by the occasional deliveries to Bow Street, where Mr. Colquhoun usually tosses Pickett a coin for his pains. An even more pleasant diversion exists in the form of Mr. Granger's pert daughter Sophy, with whom Pickett tumbles headlong into love.

And then one day 19-year-old John Pickett stumbles by accident into a criminal investigation that will bring him once again to the attention of Bow Street for an entirely different reason, and will change the course of his life.

©2015 Sheri Cobb South (P)2016 Sheri Cobb South

Critic Reviews

"It's impossible to choose which of narrator Joel Froomkin’s skills is better - his expert narrative or his spirited portrayals of the vast array of eccentric figures in this historical novel... Well-delivered subtle humor and clever wordplay add to this fascinating tale as Pickett thrives and grows." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Delicious language, wonderful narrator

I knew this book will be a perfect fit for me. It happened when I heard this in the audio sample: "He hauled by the collar of a shabby grey coat a scrawny individual who appeared to be disinclined to bear him company."

See, this is what I love in good regency stories. The language. Why say "he looked like he didn't want to be there" when you can (and should) say it so... beautifully! Sheri Cobb South, you speak the quirky language of my tribe :)

When it comes to the plot of this prequel, it's more of an origin story than a mystery novel - but there is a brush with crime here too, of course. It focuses on John Pickett's childhood and adolescence, and on the kindness of his benefactor, so rare in those times.

The characters Sheri Cobb South drawn for us are very likeable and there is a subtle sense of humor weaved in. Also, Joel Froomkin, the narrator, is stunning. He can do accents, quirky voices, all sorts of them. He's really, really good.

Give this a listen and the first full length novel will have far more richness for you. And you should definitely read that one... but that's for another review :)

My heartfelt thanks to the author, narrator, or publisher for providing me this audiobook via Audiobook Boom at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The first in the John Pickett series

Sheri Cobb South truly has a good imagination, and the skill to bring her imagination to life in a very real way. I actually read the 2nd book (in paperback) "In Milady's Chamber" first, and then found out that this novella is the prequel, so I've just listened to it on Audible. What a great story, and great character development. I am very impressed with the books of Ms. South that I've read so far (4 of them) because her characters are so interesting. She infuses the various situations that her characters are involved in with insight and very funny wit and humor. I find myself laughing out loud often while reading her books. Joel Froomkin is a wonderful narrator, and I wish he would narrate all of her books. Besides reading the first two books in the John Pickett series, I've also read the first two books in the Ethan Brundy series. There are only 3 books in that series - so far - and I very much hope that Ms. South will write more! But Joel Froomkin should be her narrator of choice as he is so very good! It might get him away from those awful vampire books he's been narrating so far....
Sheri Cobb South makes the reader fall in love with her characters, even if they start out as criminals or bumpkins or snobs. I hope that Ms. South will have a long and prolific career in writing. Her books are well worth the read - or listen!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly Good!

What did you love best about Pickpocket's Apprentice?

John Picket is a great character!

What did you like best about this story?

The ending was satisfying

What does Joel Froomkin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator was very skillful at realistic accents and portraying different characters, both male and female, to be easily recognizable and also match their personality and station in society.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I don't want to spoil the story, but overall it was the changes in John's situation caused by his choices.

Any additional comments?

I like the chance to listen to a short introductory novella to see if I like the author as opposed to committing to listening to 7 or 8 hours because it is hard for me to just give up on a book in the middle. I plan to get the next one in the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An old English mystery!

This story is a prequel to a mystery series, so I went into this knowing that it would be more of a background set up vs a fully developed cast of characters. That's important to note!

This is a short mystery, but jam packed with action, a fluid plot & a variety of characters! I loved the narration, it absolutely made the story come alive. I can't imagine this being narrated by anyone else. Just wonderful!

The story itself is enjoyable because you meet John on the streets without hope & you get to follow his journey. I enjoy the relationship with Sophie, as her & John are polar opposites in every way. Overall this makes me want to hop into the main mystery series to see where John is now & what things he might be up to! I was gifted this book in exchange for my honest review

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Can't wait for the rest of this series!

If you could sum up Pickpocket's Apprentice in three words, what would they be?

Great origin story. I started with the 1st book so the characters had context. I really would like to read more, but so far they are not available on audible. May have to break down and actually read them.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The rise of a scamp

Captain Jack' is deported to Botany Bay leaving behind his pickpocket son. Arrested for stealing an apple the boy is brought before a sympathetic magistrate and so the story begins. This short story lays the groundwork for a series that I am anxious to begin

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dee
  • LA
  • 11-07-16

Took awhile but I loved it!

Any additional comments?

Full disclosure: I'm a Joel Froomkin fan and he can really do no wrong in my eyes. Still, it took me awhile to get into this listen. Once I did though, I was rewarded with one of the best short stories I've ever listened to an and incredible narrator that made the story simply jump off the pages. Such win.

This was a prequel and I've already downloaded the first book in the series. I'm officially a fan!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderfull prologue for a regency series!

This is an introduction the John Picket mysteries and I loved it! We follow John Picket from his 14th to 19th year and even it's very fastpaced and jumps fast forward in time it was amazing to hear his backstory.

We will know about him getting in trouble, getting a second chance as an apprentice, falling in love and how he got to be a Bow Street Runner. An exellent beginning for a regency mystery series.

It's the first time I've heard Joel Froomkin narrate and OMG he's amazing and wonderfully British! He pulls a lot of British accents in this book, so if you're not familiar with the different kinds, it can be hard to understand some of what's said - so listen hard. I know British, so to me, it was so amazing that I couldn't wait to start book one!

*This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Satisfying Read

That Sheri can fit so much story and characterization into a novella testifies to her gift of writing. I never felt short-changed. Highly recommend for a quick read.

I received a copy for my honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Pickpocket's Apprentice Great story and different

This story is different from the usual lord and lady hero and heroine. The story starts out with a young starving boy being caught for stealing an apple. The bow street runner wants to hang him but the Magistrate had other ideas to keep him fed, housed, and out of trouble.

The boy, John Picket runs into temptation not only the stealing kind but the opposite sex kind. It his story and it keeps you intrigued and wondering where it is leading the growing hero.

I enjoyed listening to the Pickpockets’s Apprentice, it kept my attention and the voice by Joel Froomkin was easy on the ears, it transported you back to that time.

It's short enough to listen in a day and thank goodness it just the beginning of his adventures. I can't wait to start the next one ….

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Inishowen Cailin
  • 11-06-16

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The magistrate and John were my favourite characters. I liked the magistrates philanthropic ways and John's innocent nature.
I loved the story surrounding John's childhood and his experiences with his job and the family who had taken him in.

What about Joel Froomkin’s performance did you like?

I enjoyed the various accents performed by the narrator. I thought the narration was done very well. Well paced, easy to listen to and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

Any additional comments?

I received a copy via audio book boom in exchange for an honest review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Rogayah
  • 10-23-16

Beginnings

John Pickett's lucky childhood takes him from almost being punished for stealing an apple in Covent Garden to becoming a thief taker. A good story with social background about the early 19th century.

Interesting and I think following Pickett's career is worth it.