THE GIRL FROM FELONY BAY
By J.E. Thompson
Middle Grade Mystery
Walden Pond Press
Life once was very good for young Abby Force. She and her father lived in a beautiful old house that had belonged to the family for generations, back to before the War Between the States. She had the whole of Reward Plantation to roam and horses and a private school in nearby Charlotte. She loved them all.
But everything changed a year ago. Abby’s father, once a respected attorney, lies in a coma, accused of stealing from an elderly client. The client is herself the victim of a stroke and cannot speak well. Their house has been sold and Abby is forced to live with her aunt and uncle. Uncle Charlie is nothing like Abby’s father, his brother. He drinks, punishes Abby, puts her down and pretty much treats her like Cinderella.
On the last day of school, after a miserable year without her friends, Abby has had enough. When the bully goes after her and a smaller, younger boy, Abby fights back. She’s had enough of Uncle Charlie, too, and is determined to find out why her father was found at the bottom of a ladder in his study with his client’s jewelry.
Abby has felt alone, but reinforcements have arrived. The new owner of Reward Plantation also is a Force, but from the former slave side of the family. He’s with one of his companies in India, but his daughter, Bee, who is Abby’s age, and Bee’s grandmother have arrived. After the discovery that part of the plantation on Felony Bay itself has been sold, and holes are being dug on the beach, Abby and Bee go into action.
They go through public records, the law, neighbors’ memories and spying on suspicious activities before putting all the pieces together. Both their investigating and episodes of danger are believable and entertaining. They also are informative in a non-lecturing way as to the limits and strengths of various types of law. They weave in historical and contemporary issues, as well as treasure.
Abby and Bee are smart, intrepid young teens who face their fears, overcome family tragedies and have fun. Even the secondary characters have more than one-dimensional stories. The bully, for instance, is the hit by his father, a deputy who is awfully friendly with Uncle Charlie. Bee’s grandmother and the people Abby seeks out at her father’s law firm play their roles without taking over from the girls.
Highly recommended for grades 5-8
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