________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 1 . . . . September 8, 2017


Out of Tune. (A Riley Donovan Mystery).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Orca, October, 2017.
222 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1465-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1466-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1467-7 (epub).

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Chris Laurie.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Was she afraid they wouldn't approve?"

"Alicia's parents not approve of something she did?" He shook his head firmly. "They would have done anything for her. If she wanted to be a teacher, they would have done whatever it took to make it happen. They adored her. They had to wait a long time for her to come along, you know. But she hadn't gotten around to telling them."

"Is that why you broke your own rule and asked her out, even though you thought she was with someone else?" I asked. "Because she helped your little brother?"

"I broke my own rule because she was Alicia." A smile tickled his lips. "We were at the library, and we were talking about Zak, and all of a sudden she was asking me about hockey." Like a lot of guys in town, Brendan played hockey regularly, although he wasn't on the professional track. He just did it for fun. "I didn't know that she knew the first thing about hockey, but it turned out that she did. And then—" He shrugged. "Things just kind of took off from there, and the next thing I know, she's telling me about what she wants to do with her life, and it isn't at all what I thought it was." His eyes grew misty, and he looked away from me for a second.

"Did you see her the day that she died, Brendan?"

The school year is only just underway, and there is already another murder in the small town of Moorebridge. Fortunately, young Riley Donovan is the still-somewhat-new-in-town girl. It's Riley's Aunt Ginny who is officially a detective in the town's police force, but it often seems to be young teen Riley who ends up solving the mysteries in the small town.

      Alicia is a very well-liked student at Riley's school and has been missing for days. The police have arranged a search party to comb the woods at the edge of town where she was last seen. Sadly, her bludgeoned body is soon discovered, and some of her fellow students have become suspects. Prime suspect Carrie pulls Riley aside one day to plead for her help. She admits to writing an incriminating note but strongly denies having done Alicia any harm.

      Despite Alicia's being a very liked and respected young lady, there are quickly several suspects, and Riley, not bound by police procedures, quickly begins the search. Who could commit such an unthinkable crime? Alicia's creepy music teacher Mr. Tod? (If he's so accomplished, why's he teaching music in a small-town high school?) Could it be Tina, who is desperately jealous of Alicia's relationship with Brendan? And if Alicia was seeing Brendan, then why was she wearing a necklace given to her by Simon? There is a lot going on in Moorebridge.

      Out of Tune is another very well-paced novel in the "Riley Donovan Mystery" series, and Riley is a thoroughly likeable, engaging young protagonist. Some secondary characters, including Riley's friend Charlie, see some plot development here, but the plot quickly takes off and doesn't let up. Out of Tune is highly recommended for young teen readers who enjoy strong female characters and well-written mysteries.

      Norah McClintock grew up in a home full of books in Montreal and decided to become a writer when she was in Grade 7. Norah found fame and world-wide success writing crime fiction. She is a five-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award. Some of her most popular series are "Chloe and Levesque", "Mike and Riel" and "Robyn Hunter", each featuring a teenage sleuth. In her long career, Norah penned more than sixty young adult novels loved by fans the world over. She passed away in 2017.

Highly Recommended.

Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library.

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