Thursday, September 04, 2014

Disappearance at Hangman’s Bluff: A Felony Bay Mystery

Disappearance at Hangman's Bluff: A Felony Bay MysteryThompson, J.E. Disappearance at Hangman’s Bluff: A Felony Bay Mystery
September 2nd 2014 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Abbey and Bee are enjoying the last days of summer, and when Judge Gator asks them to check on Yemassee, his expectant Boykins spaniel (WHY does Ohio not have a state dog, if South Carolina can?), they are more than happy to. Unfortunately, when they get onto the property, they can’t find Yemassee, and a bit later see men in a truck shoot her. They immediately run for Bee’s grandmother, and the police are called. Since there have been major robberies on Leadenwah Island, including an armored truck and a gas one, and developmentally delayed neighbor Willie Smalls is blamed for those. Abbey and Bee reopen Force and Force Investigations and go looking for the dog. They ride their horses on all the back roads of the island, hoping to find the truck, and they unfortunately do. The man who shot the dog is there as well… dead. Abbey’s father, who has just recuperated from the coma he was in after a beatin g received at the hands of Donna LaBelle’s father’s goons, is working on getting Willie Smalls bail and doesn’t want to worry about Abbey running around getting in the way of criminals, so forbids her to leave the plantation. Of course, she doesn’t. She and Abbey, still looking for Yemassee, find more evil doings on the island, this time involving abandoned slave burial grounds, and are fearless in hunting down the criminals involved.
Strengths: With Abbey’s unflinching bravery and lack of concern for her own well being, these books will be very popular with students who want murder mysteries. The relationship between the distant cousins, as well as the family history between the two, is fascinating. There is a very stong sense of place;  just reading this made me feel muggy, even though it was cool when I read the book! Would definitely like to see more about Abbey, as well as other books from this author. And remember, stories set in the South are not usually something I like!
Weaknesses: Of course, it’s alarming as a parent that the girls would put themselves in such danger. I would like to see Bee take a more active role in keeping Abbey in line! Also, the Brett Helquist cover makes this a hard sell. Perhaps it’s the over exposure (like Richard Cuffari covers).

18967200 Hahn, Mary Downing. Where I Belong
September 2nd 2014 by Clarion Books
E ARC from

I have a number of books by Hahn, and really enjoy them, so I almost ordered this without reading it. I'm glad I didn't. Green Man tales are hard enough to get kids to read, and the first 100 pages of this were so depressing that I couldn't go on. I also was rather irritated by Brendan's complete lack of concern for his schoolwork. Take a look at this one, but know that it is very different from Hahn's other work.

"Alienated, bullied, a classic underachiever, 12-year-old Brendan retreats into his fantasy world and then faces the long and demanding journey to a real world where he belongs.

No one is kind to sixth-grader Brendan Doyle: his foster mother, his teachers, his classmates, and especially the thugs who bully him. He takes refuge in books, drawing, carving, and daydreaming. When Brendan stumbles upon an old man near his tree house in the Virginia woods, he is quick to believe that this is the magical Green Man, guardian spirit of the forest. Brendan's need to immerse himself in his fantasy world becomes more acute, until he meets a girl with secrets of her own who may just keep his feet on the ground."

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