Three boys go to play in the forest and only two return.
It is the biggest and the bravest friend that is captured by a rival gang who are bigger and have more boys in it. The two boys find out their friend is a captive and to get him back they have to give up their prized possesions. They have to confront the gang and exchange the captive for the possessions. The boys have to outsmart the bigger gang. My son liked this book even though Harry Potter was nowhere in sight. It was good enough that I'll read the others by this author.
Archie, the main character is a brave young man who must struggle through some great problems to rejoin his father. The story has good imagery of the streets and characters. At times there is a sense of hopelessness as the boy gets in so much trouble he doesn't know what to do. The kid has a heart of gold and manages to pull up his socks and get things done. My son read it and liked it,especially some of the quirky characters like Boogie. I read it, too and thinks its a pretty good read especially about life in the 60's. Shoeshine boys are hard to find these days but apparently used to be everywhere so its a bit of history, too. Archie is a fighter, a brave boy. I read the other book by this writer Ransom and liked it, too so I'm a fan now.