Kurt Dinan’s action-packed debut, Don’t Get Caught, is a terrific pick for readers who prefer fiction with a twist of suspense. There’s nothing remarkable about the novel’s protagonist, Max Cobb. With lackluster grades and a nonexistent social life, Max doesn’t attract much attention in the halls of Asheville High. So he’s surprised to get an invitation from the Chaos Club, an anonymous group of tricksters with a long tradition of enraging school administrators through acts of mischief, from stacking tires up the campus flagpole to hacking the district’s website. To Max, who’s itching for a way to shed his humdrum reputation, this seems like pretty cool stuff.
But Max is wary about the invitation, and he soon learns that he isn’t the only one to be singled out. Four other students received a summons from the club, including his longtime crush, Ellie Wick. When the gang, following the club’s instructions, climbs to the top of the school’s freshly graffitied water tower only to get nabbed by security, they realize they’re nothing more than fall guys. Using tips picked up from his favorite caper flicks (The Fast and the Furious; Ocean’s Eleven), Max goes after the Chaos Club—and proves he can prank like a pro.
Dinan—a high school English teacher—infuses Max’s adventures with sly humor, convincing detail and just the right level of tension. From start to finish, this is a brisk and engaging debut.