Skip to main content

"Three Times Lucky," by Sheila Turnage

Readers of so-called “cozy mysteries” know you can run into problems when the same small town experiences too many odd deaths. After a while even Miss Marple probably stopped getting party invites (“Let’s not invite Miss Marple this weekend. There’s always some ghastly murder when she’s around.” “Quite.”) But there’s no problem yet with Sheila Turnage’s Tupelo Landing series (for kids, grades 4-6).

In Three Times Lucky, a murder comes to tiny Tupelo Landing, N.C., and prompts our protagonist Moses LoBeau (aka Mo) to set up the Desperado Detective Agency with her best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson III. The crime hits very close to home for our young detectives, but not so close that one of the main characters is the villain. In The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, the newest book, the murder took places years ago, so our town of quirky characters is somewhat safe, though not without their secrets. 

Turnage’s characters do border on caricature. There’s the bombastic mayor, the gossipy Azelea Women (always taken as a group), and other small-town stereotypes, but, happily, the main characters have enough charm to avoid being typecast. Mo is an orphan who was found as a baby during a hurricane on a raft (hence her name), but she has a home and family with the Colonel and Miss Lana. In the first book, her quest for her “upstream” mother was more a part of the story. In this novel, she writes journal entries to that mom, but seems more settled with her “family of choice” (as she calls them). Truth be told, Mo can get on your nerves. She’s a pushy young lady and I was a bit surprised the Colonel and Miss Lana let her get away with calling someone “rat face.” But she’s getting better. The best development in this second novel involves Dale. In the first book, his abusive father Macon may be helping the bad guys. In Ghosts, Macon is behind bars and Dale is coming to terms with that. He has a great scene near the end of the book that shows his maturation and it’s lovely.

I highly recommend these books to preteens. As with many mysteries, you don’t read them to figure out whodunit, but rather to experience some great storytelling.


Popular posts from this blog

What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

I rarely get angry at a book or an author, but I found myself getting increasingly angry at J.D. Vance and his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Angry enough to blog (so you know it must be bad.) This book is filled with contradictions and in several places is downright crazy because of people making really poor decisions. I am disappointed that so many people I know love it and so many book reviews rated it as one of the best books of 2016. I thought it would be a story that would teach me something about Republican/conservative voters, so I wanted to read it. It did not do that.
A graduate of Ohio State and Yale Law School, and a veteran (marine), J.D. Vance is from Kentucky and Ohio (his family is originally from Kentucky but they moved to Ohio and the author spends much time traveling back and forth), so he grew up in a family of hillbillies. Most of them were very poor and didn't work and often moved to larger cities in Ohio to …