Thursday, July 19, 2012

Own the Night: Crime & Mystery Week

We are well into our second-to-last week of afternoon summer reading activities in the CCPL Teen Room: next week we will feature a variety of "Mystery Crafts" to wrap up that part of our the program.  The following week, on August 1, we will hold our fourth Teen Iron Chef contest to celebrate the end of summer reading, and to draw for our three grand prize baskets.  Gillette teens, be sure to turn in your pages/hours so you can enter the grand prize drawing!

For Crime & Mystery week, our teens have had to test their detective skills by solving short mysteries; taking an observation quiz; finding books; and identifying fingerprints.  We've discovered that some of our patrons have a knack for unraveling mysteries. Perhaps they would enjoy some of the following fiction selections:

What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell.  Some of my favorite YA novels are historic mysteries - stories that transport the reader to a different time and place, and offer enough suspense to keep a reader engaged. Blundell has crafted that type of story in this novel.  We first meet Evie as her stepfather is returning from his tour of duty in WWII. Evie and her mother, Bev, feel fortunate to have Joe in their lives, and turn blind eyes to his faults. When he announces suddenly that they are leaving New York City to go on a vacation in Palm Beach during the off-season, even as Evie is preparing to go to high school, the rest of the small family simply accepts his decision. They end up spending several weeks in the deserted Palm Beach, where an old Army friend of Joe's turns up and becomes Evie's first romantic interest.  But is there more to Peter than Evie thinks? Evie doesn't want to admit to herself that her suspicions about Joe, Peter and her mother are well-founded. But as a series of strange events leads up to a fateful boating excursion, Evie finds she can no longer deny the truth. Blundell continues her mystery-noir style with Strings Attached.

The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson.  Another mystery that takes part of its inspiration from history, this novel re-casts the story of Jack the Ripper.  Louisiana teenager Rory has been accepted to an exclusive London boarding school while her parents are conducting research in Oxford. Her arrival, however, coincides with a brutal murder near the school. As all of London watches, a series of grisly killings -- killings that exactly mimic Jack the Ripper's 1888 crimes -- sweep through the city.  Wexford, the school Rory is attending, stands exactly in the center of the Ripper's old territory. No one has any leads -- except Rory. One night, walking back to her dorm, she encounters a strange man who fits the description offered by police; however, nobody else sees the man, not even the roommate walking alongside Rory at the time. Rory must now use all her wits and abilities to discover the killer's identity -- before she becomes his next target. (Johnson will continue her Shades of London series with another title, The Madness Underneath, in 2013.)

The Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane.  A young teenager is dropped off at his uncle's estate for the summer, just as a mysterious cloud passes over the village and seems to cause several deaths. Could it be a recurrence of the plague? The young man, along with his tutor and tutor's sister, are determined to find out the truth. Using the decduction skills that will later make him famous, the teen -- who turns out to be young Sherlock Holmes --  delves into the mystery with the calm dedication and intelligence that made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original character famous.  Death Cloud is the first in Lane's Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins series, followed by Rebel Fire. 

The Case of the Deadly Desperados, by Caroline Lawrence. 12-year-old P. K. Pinkerton has just been orphaned for the second time, when his foster parents are killed by villainous Wittlin Walt.  Now, P. K., in possession of his mother's deed to a silver mine in Nevada, strikes out for Virginia City to make his fortune. He soon discovers the dishonorable side of the Wild West, where everyone he encounters seems to be after his land! P. K. relies on disguise, and his own wits, to avoid the fate of his parents. The outlaws are closing in, however, and unless P. K. figures out who he can trust, he is done for. 

The Riddles of Epsilon, by Christine Morton-Shaw. Jess is furious with her parents when they decide to move to family property on the island of Lume, just off the British coast; how will she keep in touch with her friends, with society, with her life?  In the midst of her anger, she stumbles upon some very old letters, written by a boy, Sebastian, over 100 years ago.  Sebastian lost his mother to the sea, and seems to be sending a warning to Jess. As if that weren't enough, she also encounters a ghost, Epsilon, who speaks to her only in riddles and ancient rhymes from Lume's history. Gradually, Sebastian and Epsilon help Jess to understand that she must unravel the mystery -- before her own mother succumbs to the same fate as Sebastian's. Morton-Shaw follows her debut mystery with another creepy story, The Hunt for the Seventh.

 Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey. 14-year-old Charlie lives a quiet life with his books in the small Australian town that is the setting for this debut novel.  One night, however, his quiet life changes forever when the town outcast, Jasper Jones, taps on Charlie's window and asks for his help.  He leads Charlie into the bush, where a clearing opens to reveal a dead body.  The boys both know that, for various reasons, Jasper will be blamed for the death. To prevent that, Charlie helps Jasper hide the body. What follows is a cycle of secrets, fear and suspicion in their small town.  Will Charlie ever be able to reveal what he knows? Will Jasper ever be safe from suspicion?  This novel was a Michael Printz Honor Book in 2012.

Again -- some great reading for those hot summer nights when you can't sleep!  Grab your flashlight, a good mystery, and some snacks, and "Own the Night" this summer.


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