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A Mystery

by Kate Klise

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-380-97539-4
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Anyone who has been to summer camp will delight in this wild spoof of camp life told entirely in letters, memos, and whimsical illustrations, in a format similar to the Klises’ Regarding the Fountain (1998). Three sets of brothers and sisters who hate each other find themselves trapped in Camp Happy Harmony, which promises to teach battling siblings love and respect. But the Harmony family, a crowd of has-been singers, turn out to be thieving con-artists plotting to murder each other. Led by the egotistical Darlene Harmony, the family uses the campers for drudge work, assigning them to paint buildings and build fences, feeding them drugged dinners and very little else. Darlene is trying to kill off the handyman, while two of the Harmonys (one of whom isn’t even a real Harmony brother) are trying to poison the other four. The campers, also oddballs, rise to the occasion by learning to cook, spying on the Harmonys, cracking the mystery, and exposing the Harmonys’ crimes to the world. Along the way they also come to love one another. The illustrations are as important as the writing, allowing readers to become detectives and discover clues in the letters and pictures. Every character and every plot development is thoroughly silly, and every single one contributes to the charm of this novel. A real treat, ideal for having on hand for camp care packages. (Fiction. 8-12)