Books by Eleanor Updale

JOHNNY SWANSON by Eleanor Updale
Released: March 8, 2011

Take an old-fashioned British melodrama set in 1929, feature an 11-year-old boy whose sucker newspaper ads become the contrivance for a murder mystery, throw in a wide-spread TB panic and there's the plot. Johnny Swanson and his housemaid mum are desperate for money to pay their increased rent, and his "adverts"—inspired when he throws away the household savings on a phony product that promises to increase height—prove to be the answer: How to "Stop your baby wetting the bed"? His solution: "Make him sleep in a chair." When the good Dr. Langford, Johnny's mum's employer, is murdered, she is charged with the crime. Johnny's efforts to prove her innocence are thwarted by unconvinced police, a newspaper reporter, a devious sanatorium director and other red herrings. Overly long with a slow beginning and many convenient twists and turns, the mystery isn't evident until a third of the way through. The writing is ripe for a theatrical production, but the Briticisms may trip up some American readers. (Historical mystery. 9-12)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

And three's a charm. Thief-turned-gentlemen Montmorency joins new and old cohorts from his first two adventures in uncovering a political plot by Italian anarchist conspirators that begins with rescuing a stolen collection of natural history specimens. It's been 20 years since he abandoned his alter ego of sewer-stinking, scrappy Scarper for the life of a refined, aristocratic gent. It's the end of the 19th century; war is looming; a flu epidemic is invading; and the political underworld is wreaking havoc and violence. Their international pursuit takes them to London, Scotland, Italy and Paterson, N.J., while the intrigue entwines X-ray machines, ice-cream shops, Thomas Edison, assassination, composer Puccini and several romances. Tidbits from the first two installments pop up to refresh details for the reader, and fans will race through one plot twist after another. From the ominous cover of two men dueling to the madcap ending, Updale neatly ties up the drawstring on her bag of tricks, but hopefully not enough to preclude a fourth. (Historical fiction. 10-15)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2005

It's been five years since slimy thief Scarper gave up his life of crime to become his alter ego—charming gentleman Montmorency—full time. In this second adventure, previous characters reappear in key roles as Lord Fox-Selwyn and Dr. Farcett join forces with Montmorency to find out who's behind the bomb blasts in London, why babies are dying on a remote Scottish isle and who's trying to kill boarding-house Vi. Red herrings dot the plot—Irish terrorists, a wicked priest and the mysterious Bag Man—while romance, self-recrimination and subterfuge add spice to the historical thriller. It's Victorian melodrama at its best, with an ending that sets up an option for a third escapade. (Historical fiction. YA)Read full book review >
MONTMORENCY by Eleanor Updale
Released: April 1, 2004

Merge the dark fetid sewers of London in 1875 with a newly released thief from a prison where he was a doctor's specimen for pioneering treatments of complex wounds and the stage is set for good ole Victorian crime, deceit, and intrigue. Montmorency devises a plan to use the sewers as his escape routes, using his thefts to finance his refined life as a gentleman. Creating dual identities, Scarper as the sewer rat and Montmorency as the man of upper class, his scheme transforms his life. The underground/aboveground personas pose numerous risks: being drowned by sudden storms that flood the sewers; being recognized by his victims or the doctor; being slobbered on by the swoons of the hotelier's nosy, goony daughter; and being asked to explain why his manservant is never seen with him. A major theft leads to Montmorency becoming embroiled in international subterfuge. Short chapters and a fast-paced, quick-witted plot make easily readable and involving historical fiction, rife with noxious smells, sinister atmosphere, and cleverness. Sequel slated for '05. (Historical fiction. YA)Read full book review >