Higgins, F.E. (2007). The Black Book of Secrets. 273 pages. Grades 5-8.
After barely escaping his thieving parents, Ludlow Fitch hitches a ride on the back of a carriage to the village of Pagus Parvus where he meets Joe Zabidou, the "Secret Pawnbroker." Ludlow becomes his assistant and each night when a different villager appears on Joe's doorstep to share a deep, dark secret, he transcribes these confessions. Through these midnight sessions, Ludlow and Joe learn how Mr. Ratchet, who owns most of the town, has cheated and blackmailed most of the residents. The situation quickly gets worse when Mr. Ratchet realizes what is going on and he attempts to turn the villagers against Joe and Ludlow.