A View from the Library-By John R. Clark, MLIS

First off, an update on Montooth2 : race for the Ryland ruby : Carty Anderson novel, the second YA mystery by Robert Jay. This book picks up very soon after the close of book one. It is not so much a mystery as a feel-good story that has not one, but two stories within the main story (made me think of Kiss of the Spider Woman). Surprisingly, it works quite well and I’m looking forward to the third installment next year.

If you follow literary trends, you are probably aware of the marked increase in mainstream fiction and thriller writers who are entering the young adult market. I’m leaving an in-depth assessment of that trend and some of the more interesting offerings for next month. Instead, I want to discuss the first author I found who had made the transition from traditional mystery to YA mystery-Peter Abraham. In fact, I still lead teens, particularly reluctant male readers to his Echo Falls Mysteries on a regular basis. Even though the protagonist is 13 year old Ingrid Levin-Hill, the books appeal to any teen interested in the trials and tribulations that all teens and young adults wrestle with.

What Peter Abraham has done with Behind the Curtain, Down the Rabbit Hole and Into the Dark is create a likable hero whose family is experiencing many of the same problems teens today see all the time; a brother messing with steroids, an aging grandparent who is like a Rock of Gibralter, but who is slowly failing, parents who are having marital problems, but pretend the kids don’t know anything about it and adults who you want to trust, but can’t quite.

All of these plot elements/aspects of everyday teen life, are mixed in with bits of YA romance, sinister characters and lots of action. I’m 60-something and loved all three books. Having read them allows me to give prospective readers/borrowers a much better insight into the plots of all three.

Book one, Down the Rabbit Hole, finds Ingrid in the wrong place, well, at least her shoes are, and in the process of retrieving them, she lands in a murder mess. In short order, her favorite drama coach meets with an accident that may not be what it seems and the local police chief seems intent upon wringing more from Ingrid than she thinks she knows. Add in a 30 year old fake murder that comes undone by a community renovation and wrap it up with a thrilling unveiling of the killer. There’s lots in this book to satisfy mystery lovers of all ages.

Book two, Behind the Curtain, is when Ingrid’s family starts unraveling. Her suspicions regarding the sudden increase in strength and mood changes in her older brother are compounded by her father’s risk of losing his job. Once more Ingrid has a trusted adult removed from her life, this time a soccer coach who is replaced by a Cruella DeVille clone. Add in a kidnapping and another dandy ending and you see once again why this series can be addictive.

The last book, Into the Dark, starts with Ingrid and her grandfather out snowshoeing, only to find a corpse. Gramps is arrested and Ingrid has to balance detective work, a starring role in the play “Hansel and Gretel” and a budding attraction to the male lead. Once again, the ending is a dandy one, nearly killing both Ingrid and her dad before the villain gets his comeuppance.

I was hoping for more books in the series, but none have been forthcoming. Still, three books built around a spunky thirteen year old is a pretty nice package to offer any young teen who is looking for something to read.

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3 Responses to A View from the Library-By John R. Clark, MLIS

  1. Interesting as always, John. I’m going to give one of Peter Abraham’s books a try and look forward to your analysis of the trend toward YA writing.

  2. Lea Wait says:

    I’m a real fan of Peter Abraham, too! Looking forward to some of your other recommendations for young mystery readers, John. Two I’ve just read I’d be interested in your thoughts on — now, or in a future blog. Sarah Thomson’s Mercy: The Last New England Vampire (Sarah’s a Maine author; Mercy was a real young woman who hung out in Rhode Island about 100+ years back) and Avi’s City of Orphans (Avi needs no introduction, and the title city is New York, early 20th century.) Neither of these books is offcially labelled a mystery … but both are focused on mysteries to solve, and Avi’s even includes a “boy detective.”

    • MCWriTers says:

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’m always looking for new books to excite my juvenile and YA patrons. Next month, in addition to my analysis of the move to YA, I’m profiling an absolutely amazing new book that’s at the top of the crossovers in 2011.

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