In “Dodger” ($17.99, HarperCollins), Terry Pratchett does something that he’s rarely managed. He infuses a non-Discworld book with the same kind of fun and whimsy found in his long-running series.
“Dodger,” an historical novel of sorts, pays tribute to Victorian-era London, as well as one of its most famous authors, Charles Dickens. Dodger is a 17-year-old street kid who makes a living as a tosher, someone who goes into the sewers to try to salvage a living from coins and other items lost down the drains. He also has a knack for having valuable things land in his hands, though he would, of course, never stoop the thievery.
His life changes one stormy night when he comes upon a young girl who jumps out of a coach and flees from a couple of large men. Dodger dives right into the fray, delivering a good whipping to the thugs and saving the girl, who turns out to be much more than the boy ever expected.