The Girl from Felony Bay

384p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210446-5; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210448-9. LC 2012025338.
Gr 4–7—Spirited Abbey Force, 12, is the only child of the former owner of Reward Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina. After a curious accident 18 months before, Abbey's father was found in a coma, surrounded by stolen jewels. Now Abbey lives with her cruel uncle and is determined to prove that her father is not a thief. Help arrives in the form of the daughter of the new plantation owner, Bee Force. The plot is clever, with clues dropped in each chapter and a surprising betrayal at the end. Suspense builds steadily, fueled by buried treasure, villains, and old-fashioned sleuthing. Thompson writes with plenty of dialogue, and the action is nonstop, but there is attention to detail as well. The landscape of Felony Bay-complete with alligators, mosquitoes, and a derelict cabin-creates a setting central to the story. With mixed success, Thompson takes Southern gothic tropes and incorporates them into a fast-paced mystery with subplots that tackle tough issues. Abbey is sensitive to Reward Plantation's slaveholding history. She is aware that her friend Bee, who is African American and shares her last name, is descended from people who were once slaves there. The story is a little heavy-handed, but tenacious Abbey makes it appealing to readers.—Martha Baden, Prescott Public Library, AZ

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