RETURN TO BONE TREE HILL

After years abroad, 18-year-old Jessica’s returned to Vancouver Island, where she’s now plagued by nightmares about the week she left. In her dreams she’s a murderer, standing over the body of local simpleton Charlie. Charlie did vanish that week that 12-year-old Jessica left the country, and now she’ll do anything to prove that she isn’t—or is—the murderer. She narrates in the first person as, bit by bit and clue by clue, her memories of that week return. Although Jessica’s heavily expository amateur sleuthing is a little thin on narrative tension (even a confrontation with a homicidal maniac doesn’t create much in the way of drama), this is a perfectly pleasant puzzle. The plot could benefit from more padding to make character motivations more believable, but though there’s not much rich character development, it is an enjoyable and neatly tied-up mystery. (Mystery. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-897235-58-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Thistledown Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in...

PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Sixteen-year-old Rose Ann, on a Caribbean cruise with her grandmother, becomes involved in the political intrigue surrounding the defection of Enrique, a teenaged Cuban baseball player. His uncle, a well-known major-leaguer who had previously defected from Cuba, has smuggled him on board. Rose discovers the plan and enlists the help of other teenagers to keep Enrique safely under wraps so that he can set foot on American soil. If he’s captured at sea, he must be returned to Cuba. This is no lighthearted romp, for Enrique’s entire future (and possibly his very life) is at stake. Cuban officials attempt to frame him for a murder, so they might arrest him and remove him from the ship. Other murders are committed and must be solved. Sprinkle in parent problems, romance, and a little teen angst and you have a fast-paced, engaging mystery. It is by no means a perfect example of the genre: some of the clues are a little obvious and several of the characters are one-dimensional. Story elements are introduced and then dropped with a thud, violating even the most basic concept of the red herring. However, Rose is a delightful character. She is observant, intelligent, compassionate, and downright plucky. Enrique’s situation is compelling and timely.

Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in spite of its flaws, this one is sure to please her fans. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32759-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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DARK WATERS

Scotsman Col McCann, son of a deceased criminal and the hero-worshiping brother of another, seems destined to continue in the family trade. One rainy night, his older brother Mungo storms in, beaten up and obviously frightened. Col, without knowing the nature of the crime he has committed or giving it much consideration, helps Mungo concoct an alibi to hoodwink the police and avoid prison. Shortly afterwards, Col saves a younger boy, Dominic, from drowning in an icy loch. His altruistic impulse and the events that follow lead Col to question his brother’s actions and their effect on the lives of his victims. The fast-paced plot, with its element of the supernatural, explores moral and ethical issues, providing conflict and depth to the story’s mystery and adventure. Characterization is fine; Col, Dominic, and Klaus, an illegal immigrant, are particularly convincing. There is plenty to think about and discuss here: the conflict between family loyalty and responsibility to people outside the family circle, as well as the role played by improved self-esteem and social acceptance on Col’s view of himself and his world. An exciting read with strong appeal for mystery fans and reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58234-846-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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