THE TRAP by Joan Lowery Nixon


Age Range: 11 - 14
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The retirees are pluckier than the plot in award-winning Nixon’s (Gus and Gertie and the Lucky Charms, 2002, etc.) latest whodunnit. This has the usual trappings of a mystery with two deaths, some thievery, and the requisite red herrings. The characters, however, are bland and the story sluggish, with only a few taut moments thrown in. Julie is delegated by her family to spend the summer at Rancho Del Oro (a retirement community) to help care for her great uncle Gabe, who has broken his ankle in a fall. Upon her arrival, she learns that Gabe is convinced that his fall was no accident. Believed to be the delusions of a doddering old man, only Julie gives his story credence and she begins poking around. The ranch is remote, and creepy at night. Valuables begin disappearing and then two residents die. Murder? Well, Julie believes so. Spurred on by her friend via e-mail and her own imagination, Julie continues to investigate. As the story unfolds, it seems no one is above suspicion what with resentful ranch hands and friends who show up at all the wrong times. But it’s only when Julie receives threatening e-mails that readers will find a pulse in the story. As a 16-year-old, Julie doesn’t ring true, but a teen reader can identify with her resentment of feeling strong-armed by her family. Julie is ultimately reminded of the importance of a family’s love and loyalty, but nice lesson aside, this mystery is too formulaic to rattle any nerves. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-32762-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2002


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