Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: The Girl is Murder

The Girl is Murder
Kathryn Miller Haines
2011; Roaring Brook; ISBN 978-1-59643-609-1 (hardcover)

Summary:  World War II is less than a year old, but it's already exacted many casualties.  Iris's dad came home after losing his leg at Pearl Harbor, but not before Iris's mother killed herself under mysterious circumstances.  Grieving, full of questions, and now broke, Iris and her dad move to the Lower East Side.  Going to public school and worrying about money is a big change for Iris.  She wants to help her dad with his private detective work, but he won't let her.  When he hits a stumbling block on a missing person case--a case that involves a boy Iris knows--she decides to help out anyway.  Soon, the former private schoolgirl is living large, swinging at the Savoy and staying out late.  But she'll find that cracking cases exposes the dark side of people.

Filled with period slang and insightful observations, The Girl is Murder is a winning novel.  While the mystery plot feels a bit muddled, with too-slow pacing and out-of-place misdirection, the rest of the novel shines.  The historical setting is drawn with restraint, using slang and a few details, like products and news of the day, to set the scene.  This lets the reader fully embrace Irish and her problems.  Supporting characters like Pearl, Suze and Pop are fully-drawn,with their own motivations and back stories.  Fans of Strings Attached by Judy Blundell and Veronica Mars will agree that The Girl is Murder is swell.

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