Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Ted Wilford Mystery, no. 3 - The Star Reporter Mystery

Riddle me this - when is a Ted Wilford mystery not really a Ted Wilford mystery?  Why, when Ted Wilford is not the one solving the mystery, that's when!

I enjoyed the first two books in this Ted Wilford series, and so I picked up this third mystery with the expectation that it would be just as good. I was surprised, though, when the story opened with not Ted, but rather, his brother Ronald.  Thinking this was simply a lead-in to Ted's latest mystery, I kept on reading, only to discover that no - The Star Reporter Mystery was Ronald Wilford's opportunity to shine and show off his reporting and mystery-solving skills.

While, not at all what I was expecting, the book was still a really good read, and the mystery was well plotted and rather intricate for a young adult book.  The story centers around the mysterious disappearance of Barry Knight, a fellow reporter at the newspaper where he works (the Cleveland Star). Ronald's boss asks him to look into it and see if he can't find the missing reporter.  Ronald starts with Barry's secretary, Carole Curtis, on whom he has a secret crush.  She is unable to offer much help, though. Ronald checks in at the boarding house where Barry lives, but find no clues there either (other than a violin case that appears to have been left behind).  With nothing to go on, he starts delving into the most recent stories Barry was working on - but even an interview with the man who was the subject of the last story reveals nothing new.

I have to admit, this mystery kept me guessing.  With Barry Knight, nothing is exactly what it seems.  The more Ronald delves into the mystery, the more twists and turns there are.  Ronald ultimately elects to follow up on a letter of recommendation that was the only personal item in Barry Knight's personnel file at the paper, in the hopes that uncovering elements of Barry's personal life and past life might shed some light on where he has gone.  The only problem is, the man who wrote the letter of recommendation is deceased, his wife does not recall Barry Knight, and the town high school and the local newspaper have absolutely no records of a Barry Knight having ever lived there or having gone to school there!

So this begs the question - just who is Barry Knight, really?

Ronald begins to pick up on clues that he gleans from the newspaper reports of a robbery at a local gas station in Barry's alleged home town, and ultimately he calls his brother, Ted, to come help him as he picks up on the trail of where Barry may have gone.  Along the way, Barry's father suddenly appears, hoping to locate his missing son, and the three of them head up into the mountains to a secluded hunting lodge, in the hopes of finding Barry.  It's a definite race against time, as not only are Ronald and Ted searching for Barry, but men working for a purported crime syndicate are also hunting for Barry, and a possible avalanche in the snow-filled mountains threatens them all!

Once again, Norvin Pallas has written an intriguing tale that is not obvious from the get-go, which makes for a very enjoyable read.  I am definitely thrilled that Wildside Press is reprinting this series that I (and probably countless others) would never have the opportunity to read, and I'm looking forward as more of the books are published!

RATING:  9 visits to Short Vincent out of 10 for keeping the mysteries surprising and fresh and proving that even a boys' mystery can be a great read.

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