Monday, October 2, 2017

The First Northwoods Mystery - Enchantment Lake

I love books.  If you've been reading this blog, then you KNOW how much I love books.  Mysteries are, by far, my favorite all-time books to read.  My love for mysteries stems from my mom buying me Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, and other various series books back when I was a kid.  Thus, while I enjoy some select adult mystery series, my true love will always be children's and young adult mysteries.  And in the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to stumble across some really good series (particularly in light of the slim pickings when it comes to children's mysteries today).  But rarely do I buy a "one-off'er" mystery.  I prefer my ongoing series.

Yet, for some reason, I was drawn to Enchantment Lake, by Margi Preus.  I'm not sure if it was the "A Northwoods Mystery" header, or if it was the description of the book that describes the protagonist as a Nancy Drew-type, or if it was the rather unique cover art and design.  Regardless, I did ultimately purchase the book through Amazon in the hopes that it would be a good read.

I was wrong - this was not a good read at all - it was a FANTASTIC read!

Preus introduces readers to her reluctant teenage detective, Francesca (Francie) Frye (a/k/a "French Fry" or "little Frenchie") at an audition in New York, where Fancie is nervous about her audition.  Before she can audition, however, she gets a call from her Aunt Astrid, who lives with her other aunt, Jeannette, up in the north words of Minnesota.  The connection is anything but good, but it's enough for Francie to hear her aunt say "murder" and that "someone is trying to kill us" and "come quickly."  Now, her aunts are known for their absurdity and odd ways, but Francie can't imagine them asking her to leave New York where, despite being only seventeen, she is pursuing her career as an actress.  But they do - - and she does, flying halfway across the country to discover whether her aunts really are in serious trouble.

She soon finds her concern for her aunts misplaced, when they reveal that someone is forcing people to sell their properties on the shore of Enchantment Lake to build a road through the area.  Francie could kick herself for dropping out of an audition for this "emergency" - until her aunts reveal that the people who sold their property have been dropping like flies!  A falling tree limb, a drowning, a poisonous snake bite, a poisoned well, a heart attack, and most recently - a gunshot made to look like a suicide.  Are they merely coincidences, or is something more sinister happening around Enchantment Lake.  And what is this story Francie hears about a supposed treasure said to be under enchantment?  Or, more accurately, under Enchantment (as in, under the lake)?

Preus weaves a wonderful mystery tale about murder, secrets, greed, and blackmail, and quite frankly, it will keep you guessing until pretty much the end when the culprit is finally revealed.  Every time I thought I had it figured out, another curve ball was thrown, displacing my theory.  The characters are charming - love the local lawyer's intern, Nels, as well as Sandy, the owner of the local store.  And, of course, Aunt Astrid and Aunt Jeannette are barrels of fun with their quirky strangeness.  And as for Francie herself - she may begin as a rather reluctant detective (having played one as a child on television), she soon finds herself drawn into the mystery, and before you know it, she turns all Nancy Drew, refusing to turn away from solving the crime and saving her aunt's lives, even when her grandfather shows up and threatens to tighten the strings on her trust fund if she doesn't drop it and return to New York City.

And to top it all off, Francie herself has some mysteries of her own to solve - like, what really happened to her father?  Was his death an accident, or something else?  And who is her mother?  Why will no one tell her anything about her?  And what happened between her and her brother to create the strained relationship that they now have?

With a great mystery and fun-tastic characters, there's no way you'll be able to avoid falling under the "enchantment" of Preus' writing.  And thankfully, while writing this post, I checked on Amazon and found that there is a second book in this series - The Clue in the Trees, wherein we will discover more about Francie's estranged brother.  I definitely cannot wait!

RATING:  10 brown casserole dishes out of 10 for giving readers a contemporary teenage detective that is over the age of 13, a well-written, superbly-plotted mystery, and an excellent read!

No comments:

Post a Comment