I thought it would be good to have a little cross-over action for both the reading fans and the skating fans out there. Pun intended. In any case, the first book review will be about Skating Around the Law, a murder mystery by Joelle Charbonneau.
Since this is, you know, a murder mystery I won’t go spoiling any of the important plot related stuff. I will however, extol the virtues of the rather fun cast of characters and give my overall opinion of the book.
The story is about Rebecca Robbins, a small town girl trying to make her way in the big city of Chicago. When her mother passes she inherits The Toe Stop, her mother’s rink located in her small home town. After spending her childhood dreaming of getting out of small-town-Illinois, Rebecca’s goal is to sell the rink and get back to Chicago as quickly as possible. However, when the town’s handy man, Mack, winds up dead in a rink toilet, her dreams of a quick sale die with him. When it becomes apparent that the town’s sheriff is essentially useless in solving the case, Rebecca takes things into her own hands. In her quest to find the killer, Rebecca shakes up the small town and makes a few enemies and a few friends. Of course, clues are found, people are questioned, and in general, hilarity ensues.
One of the great things about this book is the fun cast of characters. Written from Rebecca’s first person point of view, there is snarky commentary throughout about the crazy people would would want to live in rural Illinois. Although they are all slightly stereotypical (small town girl escapes to the big city, hunky small town veterinarian, crazy old cat lady, the ladies-man grandfather, etc.) most of the time they are just plain fun. A few of the stand-out characters are George, the rink’s skating instructor who would have been better suited to live in the days of the Skating Vanities and Gloria Nord, and Elwood, the hat wearing camel. Although they may not have quite the page time as some of the other characters, they are fun for the skating crowd, or just plain fun. Also, much love for Bryan and Reginald, but really, you have to read it to see why. I can’t spoil the awesome on that one.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12 and up (maybe 14 and up, depending on maturity of the kid/family values/etc). Being as how it is, you know, a murder mystery, there is some violence (*gasp* the horror!), and while, mercifully, most of the sexual content is keep off-screen, it is very very (very) heavily implied. While the plot is rather predictable, the characters rather stereotypical, and the story very straightforward, there are some exciting bits and some great laugh out loud moments. It doesn’t take itself seriously and so everything just works. To sum it up in a sentence: This is Nancy Drew for the adult crowd. For grown up Nancy Drew lovers, roller skating fans, or anyone looking for a fun, fast, easy read, this is a great book.