copyright 1975 Willo Davis Roberts. Atheneum Books. intermediate fiction, ages approx. 11-15. 181 pgs.


Pretty good book. Kid sees a murder which looks like an accident, but he knows better. He tries to convince his family of what really happened, but they're too busy with his sister's impending wedding to pay him much attention. He's eleven, a born troublemaker, he sounds like he's making it up, who has time for such foolishness? He tries calling the police, but they too assume he's crying wolf.

The book gives a realistic view of how frustrated a kid would get, in this situation. The dialogue holds true, though Willo has to direct the voices of some two dozen characters - family in town for the wedding, all staying in the same house, hence the family having other things on its collective mind than listening to some kid tell murder stories. The language is a bit dated, but accurate, considering the book's 25 years old. (But did people really say "chum" in 1975?)

It soon becomes evident that someone does believe Rob saw a murder, and that person is THE MURDERER HIMSELF!!! and he is someone IN ROB'S HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!! Ok, so it's not too hard to piece together who did it - but that's not the point, it's an excellent read.

Willo tells a fast, description-packed story - there's a murder, several attacks made on the main character (he's bleeding from the head by page 30), and a final showdown with the killer, all nonstop action. Willo doesn't cut corners or euphemize the tough parts, but neither does she get gory - the corpse is described honestly and adequately, without being gruesome. Young readers of this book won't feel they're being "protected" from difficult scenes, which is excellent.

The plot gets wrapped up pretty quickly, Scooby-doo style, but it doesn't come off as too contrived. The worst that'll happen is that some readers will say   "That was AWESOME! Except for the part at the end where you find everything out in like two pages. But it was AWESOME!"   Not a bad verdict - not a bad book.

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