________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2005


Hiding in Plain Sight. (A Shelby Belgarden Mystery).

Valerie Sherrard.
Toronto, ON: A Boardwalk Book/Dundurn Press, 2005.
221 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 1-55002-546-5.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Joanne Peters.

***½ /4

Hiding in Plain Sight begins in August, on “a perfect day to hang out with friends by the river or just goof off around town.” Shelby Belgarden's boyfriend, Greg, is visiting relatives in Ontario, and her best friend, Betts Thompson, is apparently off on vacation with her family. At the end of Chasing Shadows, the third book in this mystery series, Shelby wondered why Betts was so upset the last time that they talked. After several chapters, readers find out why:


Mrs. Thompson sighed and stepped back enough to let me in. She didn't look so hot, I noticed. Her face was pale and there were dark circles under her eyes.

“I'm telling her everything,” Betts said as she took my arm and pulled me toward the kitchen. Her voice was tired, like she'd had this argument a few times and didn't have the energy to do it again.

“Oh, go ahead,” Mrs. Thompson said, sounding just as weary. “It won't be long before all of Little River hears about it, anyway.”

My head was spinning by the time we plunked down at the table. Betts opened her mouth to speak a couple of times but couldn't seem to get started. Then, before she got a single word out, she started to cry. “My mom,” she finally sobbed, “is going to jail.”


     Why would the well-respected manager of a software development company be facing criminal charges? Apparently, the master disks for a new computer program have been stolen from NUTEC, the company for which Mrs. Thompson works, and circumstantial evidence points to her as the only possible suspect. Who else but Mrs. Thompson could have taken the disks from a safe (to which only she had the combination) in a locked room (to which only Mrs. Thompson had the key)? Betts' mom is not optimistic about the direction events are taking, and even her lawyer is discussing probation as her best option. But, Mrs. Thompson is innocent of the crime, and evidence points to its being “an inside job,” perpetrated by someone who has knowledge of security procedures at NUTEC.

     It's a mystery, and where's there's a mystery in the town of Little River, sooner or later, Shelby will be involved in its solution. Posing as a student working on a summer employment project, Shelby immerses herself in the investigation of the crime and in the murky world of office friendships and rivalries: NUTEC employs eight people, besides Mrs. Thompson, and, at first, none seems to be likely suspect. But, as Shelby's investigative work proceeds, we learn, at the end, that the theft is, indeed, an inside job, with both the evidence and the perpetrator, “hiding in plain sight.”

     Unlike previous Shelby Belgarden mysteries, Hiding in Plain Sight is less of a “stand-alone” work and more of a true sequel, building on events and characters introduced in Chasing Shadows. There's less everyday adolescent life, and by the end of this book, Shelby is definitely older and wiser in the ways of the world and the politics of the workplace.


Highly Recommended.

Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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