Friday, September 30, 2011

Review - "The Midnight Tunnel"

I've said before that mysteries were not really my thing growing up, but I'm really starting to come around. There's something about an intrepid young detective that sparks my interest now. I don't know if it's the danger, the smarts or the twists and turns these young ladies (for it always seems to be a young ladies) face that are reaching out to me or if it's something else entirely, but I've just about turn around into a mystery convert. The latest young lady to take the stage is eleven-year-old Suzanna Snow, star of Angie Frazier's The Midnight Tunnel.
It's 1904, and another summer has come for Suzanna, of Zanna, at the Rosemount Hotel, which her parents manage. This summer, Zanna is apprenticed in the kitchen, but she'd much rather be out and about, taking notations in her notebook, honing her skills as a detective, just like her famous Uncle Bruce, who lives and works in Boston. Even though she takes notice of every small little thing (and you always know those small details will come back), Zanna hardly dreams that she'll soon be in the middle of an honest to goodness mystery when a young girl, a guest at the hotel, goes missing one stormy night. Zanna thinks she saw Maddie being taken away on the night in question, but she can't get any of the adults to take her seriously. So of course, this calls for some on the side investigation. Aided by Will, her Uncle Bruce's nephew, Zanna follows clue to clue through to the logical conclusion and, of course, saves the day.
What I like most about Zanna is her willingness to bend the rules to get what she wants or needs. She's not reckless or hurtful, just independent, like sleuths Flavia de Luce and Enola Holmes before her (ok, Flavia is occasionally hurtful, I'll give you that). She respects her parents, and tries to obey her mother's rules of "social taboos", but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I liked her indignation when the search for Maddie slows down and people start to lose interest in the little girl's safety. Zanna's got spirit, yes she does. The setting for this mystery is another high point. With open beaches, long, dark tunnels and junk rooms filled with debris, the locations provided an excellent atmospheric backdrop to the action. What Frazier's really done is given us a solid mystery that's easy to follow, even when it has many balls up in the air, and a delightful new character to add to the pantheon of great girl detectives. I look forward to more Suzanna Snow mysteries, as I certainly hope there will be more to come.
The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery, by Angie Frazier
2011, Scholastic
Library copy

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