Thirteen-year-old Charlie inherits just one thing from his troubled dad: a key. What it’s for might be revealed by his thuggish uncle, who’s now relentlessly stalking him.
In this debut Canadian import, Charlie’s father slips him a key just before dying. With only one other relative, Uncle Nick, whose long prison stint for two murders is just ending, he’s sent to a brutal juvenile detention center while Child Services seeks a more permanent placement. Charlie, intrepid and amusing, escapes with the help of Frankie, a newly released teen inmate, and Clare, a girl who is addicted to “Oxys.” Nick, with a badly scarred hand, which he uses to good effect to threaten people, weaves in and out of Charlie’s first-person narrative as the boy evades his sinister presence as well as authorities who don’t truly seem to have his best interests in mind. While foggy cliffs and colorful villages effectively evoke the exotic Newfoundland setting, it’s the mystery that moves the tale forward. It is not only focused on the purpose of the key, but also on Charlie’s need to discover his father’s role in the murder of possibly pedophilic Brother of the Holy Order. The sexual abuse at an orphanage, briefly described, is based on actual events.A fast-paced, often riveting mystery with a plausible, thrilling climax. (Mystery. 11-15)