Friday 19 August 2022

Deception in December - Doreen McAvoy - Fern Valley Mystery Book 2

Deception in December
Fern Valley Mystery Book 2
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
ISBN 9781649496430
eISBN 9781649496430

This is a great sophomore offering from the pen of McAvoy. Like musicians who can become known as ‘One Hit Wonders’ some authors have a great first effort and then hits a sophomore slump, some never completing that second work. This book and series bring to mind many other books, other Catholic of Christian Middle Grade fiction, and even some secular books. In some ways it reminds me of the Goodballs series by Tony Abbott and Colleen Madden but geared for older children. It also reminds me of the West Brothers books by Theresa Linden but for a younger audience. And a bit like the Sisters of the Last Straw series and geared for about the same reading level. But with children as the main character and not nuns. This story is what I call realistic fiction. It is a story that could be set in the here and now. Nothing supernatural or otherworldly. Or as Madeleine L’Engle called it Chronos time, real time fiction. The description of the story is:

“Thirteen-year-old Will Abbott is enjoying his eighth-grade year and looking forward to a fun-filled December packed with basketball games, snowball fights, and Christmas pageant practice. With Otis Mayfield safely behind bars, Will’s biggest problem is enduring the antics of the class bully, Beefy Boris. But when an old car belonging to the Mayfield family is spotted in town, Will fears another Mayfield is back. And when his friend Betsy’s baby pictures, believed to have been lost in a fire, mysteriously start appearing, Will is certain someone with ties to the Mayfield family is involved. With Betsy’s residence in Fern Valley in jeopardy, Will must retain the services of Boris’s newly formed messenger service. Can a bit of Christmas spirit help Will and his friends find the answers they need to keep Betsy from leaving Fern Valley?”

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Secrets in September, but in many ways I consider this an even better story. The way advent, church, and school life are mingled in this story. The clues about what is happening. And other factors make this a great mystery for young readers or like me older people who just love a good story.

While reading this, it was obvious some of what was going on. The strange old car in town. The stranger needing a winter coat. Lights being on in the abandoned mansion. But the how and was was wonderful to discover as the story went on. All things were as they appeared, but much was done with good intentions. 

This story is very well written and it is an engaging read, I was using adaptive technology while to listen to it while working out. And my son was hooked almost instantly. He is going back to read the first and then this story. We are both hoping there will be a story for each month of the year, at least to start with. The characters are really fun, they are good kids, you will see echoes of kids from your own childhood, or your own children and their friends. The story moves at a good pace. There is nothing in the story that explicitly makes it Catholic. Even the church with Sunday school feel more evangelical or mainline Christian. Thus opening the story up to a wider audience. It was a real great read.

I did not read much when I was younger because of my dual form of dyslexia. Because of that I really enjoy reading Middle Grade and Young Adult books now. McAvoy’s writing style is similar to those of Andrew Clements, Gordon Korman, and Chris d’Lacey. All of whom are among my favourite authors for those age groups. I would absolutely pick up the next volume in this series and give it a read. It is a great novel and I look forward to seeing where the characters go next.

A very fun middle grade read sure to entertain the whole family.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Doreen McAvoy:
Fern Valley Mysteries:

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