ROSCOE'S LEAP by Gillian Cross
Kirkus Star


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A subtle, suspenseful thriller with a highly unusual plot, from the skillful author of On the Edge and Chartbreaker. Roscoe's Leap is a bizarre house that bridges a stream just below a falls, built for an ancestor of its present inhabitants, a millionaire sewage contractor. When an ingenuous young man (Nick Honeyball) arrives to do research on the house for his thesis, he finds the present Roscoe family paralyzed and divided by an unexplained past event: Mother is withdrawn and cold; Hannah (15), a mechanical genius, is absorbed in repairs; Stephen (12) is avoiding some nameless horror; and on the other side of the stream, Doug (the unacknowledged father) tends fierce old Great-uncle Ernest. Sensibly trying to help preserve the house, Nick suggests repairing the fabulous collection of windup toys as an exhibit to attract tourists. Hannah is soon engrossed in this task. When ""The French Terror,"" a life-sized working model of a guillotine, is discovered and partially mended, the full import of its legacy and Stephen's fear become clear; and Stephen, poised on the fractured bridge above the falls, gives new meaning to ""Roscoe's Leap."" Cross perfectly evokes the menacing atmosphere and repressed emotions of the Roscoes, with Nick as amiable foil. Her drama builds inexorably, without a missed step or a loose end, so that when the true meaning of the French Terror is revealed the final leap is toward a believable reconciliation.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1987
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Holiday House