CANARIES AND CRIMINALS

In a winningly oddball sequel to Trouble at Betts Pets (2002), a turtle with a map painted on its back holds the key to a series of mysterious encounters and break-ins at a pet store in a downtrodden neighborhood. Young Aaron Betts takes in a sick turtle left on his doorstep, and thinks little of it until a homing pigeon delivers a semi-literate, but threatening note. Shortly thereafter, Aaron and his mouthy friend Sharon are kidnapped by three ex-cons desperate to reclaim the turtle, as the map on its back leads to a five-million-dollar stash. Aaron has to admit that he had come home from school one day to find that the turtle had passed on, and been given a “burial at sea” by his mother—fortunately, however, being a budding artist, he had drawn a detailed picture of the creature. It’s all handled with a light touch; the crooks are so incompetent that they pose a danger only to themselves. Staffed with likable, quirky characters and driven by issues both serious and not-so, this will leave young readers hoping for more visits to Aaron’s animal-friendly world. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7636-1928-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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THE TIGER RISING

Themes of freedom and responsibility twine between the lines of this short but heavy novel from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). Three months after his mother's death, Rob and his father are living in a small-town Florida motel, each nursing sharp, private pain. On the same day Rob has two astonishing encounters: first, he stumbles upon a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel; then he meets Sistine, a new classmate responding to her parents' breakup with ready fists and a big chip on her shoulder. About to burst with his secret, Rob confides in Sistine, who instantly declares that the tiger must be freed. As Rob quickly develops a yen for Sistine's company that gives her plenty of emotional leverage, and the keys to the cage almost literally drop into his hands, credible plotting plainly takes a back seat to character delineation here. And both struggle for visibility beneath a wagonload of symbol and metaphor: the real tiger (and the inevitable recitation of Blake's poem); the cage; Rob's dream of Sistine riding away on the beast's back; a mysterious skin condition on Rob's legs that develops after his mother's death; a series of wooden figurines that he whittles; a larger-than-life African-American housekeeper at the motel who dispenses wisdom with nearly every utterance; and the climax itself, which is signaled from the start. It's all so freighted with layers of significance that, like Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue (2000), Anne Mazer's Oxboy (1995), or, further back, Julia Cunningham's Dorp Dead (1965), it becomes more an exercise in analysis than a living, breathing story. Still, the tiger, "burning bright" with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0911-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS

AN ENOLA HOLMES MYSTERY

With gleeful panache, Springer introduces an innocent but capable young sleuth—the younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, no less—and takes her from wild English countryside to the soupy filth of Victorian London. Having led a free-spirited but cloistered life on the ancestral country estate, 14-year-old Enola Holmes is thrown for a loop by her mother’s sudden disappearance—not to mention the subsequent arrival of her long-absent big brothers, both of whom turn out to be overbearing and dismissive of women. Rather than meekly knuckle under, though, Enola makes careful preparation (she thinks) and slips off to track her wayward parent down. On the way, she falls into the furor surrounding an apparent kidnapping (see title)—and then, barely does she arrive in the big city before some authentically scary ruffians snatch her, too. Naïve but a quick study, and more resourceful than even her renowned siblings, Enola resolutely surmounts each challenge that comes her way. By the end, she has rescued the spoiled young aristocrat, eluded her brothers, gotten a lead on her mother thanks to a series of cleverly coded messages and even set herself up as a “Perditorian”—a finder of lost things and people. A tasty appetizer, with every sign of further courses to come. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24304-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sleuth/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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