Giles, Stephen M. The Body Thief (The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom) ARC provided by Sourcebooks.
The youngest generation of Winterbottoms have it tough: Adele's mother lost all of the family money when she was sued by the family of her lab assistant who was killed by mutated birds who attacked him; Isabelle's father is a thief who encourages her to befriend rich girls at her school and steal from them; Milo's parents were killed by a volcano, and he lives with his impoverished musician grandfather. When all three receive an invitation from their Uncle Silas to visit his island, and a check for $10,000 to help defray their expenses, they each decide that the visit might help them become heirs to Silas' enormous fortune. Not only is Silas rich, but he's dying, and he's a creepy guy on top of it. Their are shady retainers, a pet alligator, and a doctor with a plan to save Silas-- at the expense of his young relatives! In great Gothic style, the children scheme with and against each other, especially when they find that Silas hasn't invited them to be his heirs... at least not of his money!
Look for this title when it is released on August 1st. It will be a great book for fans of mystery stories with evil relatives, especially for students who like Barbara Brooks Wallace's Victorian books. The cover strikes a good balance-- younger students usually like this genre more than older ones, and the cover is creepy without being overly cartoonish (although I rather prefer the Australian version, with its red and black). The writing is facile and a pleasure to read-- perhaps it's the effects of summer, but I've been losing patience with books that don't engage me. Even though the children weren't the most pleasant, I liked them Milo and Adele, and Isabelle and Silas were evil enough that I could root against them. There were twists and turns in the plot that I didn't quite see coming. All in all, a great first effort.