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Crook, Marion.

Toronto, Overlea House, 1987. 142pp, paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-7172-1615-2. (A Susan George Mystery). CIP.

Grades 7 to 9
Reviewed by Janice Foster

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

Stone Dead is the second Susan George mystery. Besides the first volume in the series, Payment in Death * Marion Crook has published several other novels for young people such as Hidden Gold Mystery.**

Against her boyfriend's advice, Susan George leaves her attentive family behind and takes a summer job as a ranch hand on the ranch of her boy-friend's father in Cariboo country. There, tending the animals and mending fences, she hopes to prove her independence and make some decisions regarding her future.

At first Susan feels lonely and isolated. Her employer is neither warm nor friendly and makes heavy demands. Thinking that her job and the threat of predatory bears are her greatest worries, she is shocked to suddenly find the body of her neighbour, Joe Stone, murdered in his barn. Finding herself in the midst of a murder investigation with herself a possible suspect, Susan sets out to prove her innocence. In the process, she uncovers a shop-lifting ring, another murder, and facts that seem to implicate her landlady's troubled son. After several narrow escapes, Susan unravels the mystery and cleverly plans a trap for the murderer.

This easy-to-read novel will appeal to any young mystery buff. The clear text and simple vocabulary, together with the straightforward presentation, make this story appropriate for students with a wide range of reading levels. The ranch setting adds an interesting flavour to the story-line. The author cleverly incorporates numerous adolescent problems into the mystery: this makes the characters and their plights more realistic. The increasing complexity of the plot adds intrigue, and like Susan George, the reader becomes caught up in the suspense of solving the mystery.

Janice Foster, Winnipeg, Man.

*Reviewed vol. XV/3 May 1987 p.110.
*Reviewed vol. XV/5 September 1987 P-191.

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