Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? It just seems like the perfect thing to curl up with on a cold weekend day. I’ve been excited by a few crime/mystery based novels in recent weeks, and while one is great for younger audiences, the other is most definitely reserved for upper high school and college students.
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
I am always, always, always up for a good Sherlock Holmes retelling, and Eulberg’s Shelby Holmes story is a perfect middle grade entry into the Sherlock world. In it, Shelby Holmes is a 9 year old sixth grader with all the brains, sass, and social awkwardness you’d expect from a character based on Sherlock, and John Watson has just moved into the building. John, whose military parents have just gone through a divorce, is in need of new friends and sort of falls into Shelby’s crime solving world when a classmate of theirs discovers that her prize-winning dog has been stolen. Shelby and John are both well-written characters who work together in their own quirky ways, and they have depth to them that goes far beyond the crime to be solved. With John’s family situation and Shelby’s trouble making friends, there’s plenty here for readers to identify with and cheer the characters through. The mystery itself is both clever enough to be worthy of a 9 year-old Holmes and solvable enough for a middle grade audience. The Great Shelby Holmes would be perfect for readers as young as 4th grade and I can see its appeal going up through middle school. Also, for those adults (like me!) who love Sherlockian literature, it’s a really fun look into the classic characters as modern day kids. Elizabeth confirmed for me that there will be at least two more Shelby Holmes books, and I’m already looking forward to them!
Wrecked by Maria Padian
This book features an entirely different kind of crime – a rape that takes place on a college campus. The way it’s told, though, is through the eyes of Haley and Richard, the roommates of the two involved in the sexual assault, which gives the story a mysterious quality as the roommates try to figure out what really happened that night. When Haley and Richard happen meet each other and start dating, they don’t even realize that they’re both connected to the rape incident because, in their role as roommates of the two involved, they’re not allowed to talk about it with anyone else. The story isn’t just focused on the rape, though, as Haley and Richard get to know each other and start dating, there’s a fun contemporary romance element too. The knowledge of what sexual assault is has a way of becoming more real when it actually happens to someone close to you, so it’s interesting to go through that process Haley and Richard and see how it impacts their dating relationship. The whole story may sound convoluted and confusing, but Padian crafts the story very well. Wrecked is intriguing and thought-provoking; I feel like this should be a must read for students getting ready to go off to college. It would also make a great starting point for discussion about this topic with anyone wanting to explore it more.