Monday, July 14, 2008

"It Was Summertime in the City..." A Great Time to Catch a Hot Mystery Like The Postcard by Tony Abbott!

It was summertime in the city, one of those July days In Charlotte when it gets so hot you could broil a burger right on the pavement. That day started like any other for the Bill and Carl Detective Agency. We'd been tracking down books that no one else could find. I was beat after spending hours helping anklebiters find The Cat In the Hat or assisting pretty young things look up another princess book. Yeah, it takes a tough guy to do a tough job like that, but even a tough guy gets tired and I had to take an overdue siesta. No sooner had I put my feet up, then the phone rang.

"Hello--who is it? A blonde? Send her in!" I'm always glad to rescue a blonde in distress.

Well, no sooner had I clapped eyes on her that I knew she was like no dame I'd ever seen before. (or would ever want to see again!!)

"Oh, Mr. Carl, my client wants you to take this case!

"Your client? Who is he, the Fat Man? "

"No, the Tall Bearded Dude. Besides, you've got no room to talk!"

"Never heard of The Tall Bearded Dude. What's he want with me?"

"He wants you to take this case."

"Huh??????? "

"Take this briefcase, you big dummy! He said you'll know what to do when you look inside."

So I took the case. When I looked back, she was gone! Had she been only a dream? A really, really BAD dream??

But this briefcase was real enough, so I looked inside.

There it was--The Postcard, the latest book from Tony Abbott.

So that's who the Tall Bearded Dude was. I'd met him before at the Novello Festival last year. Saw him in the lineup. Even got some straight answers in an interview on 12-13-07. I knew him from The Secrets of Droon books. I'd read his stuff before. To be specific, I'd read Kringle and written about it on 12-20-07 . Pretty good. So I pulled up a chair and began to see what this keyboard-pounder had sent me.

All right, enough goofiness. I just finished The Postcard and liked it a whole lot. Tony Abbott has knocked one another way, way out of the park. Thirteen-year-old Jason, living in Boston, has just learned that his grandmother has died. She had been very old and had a stroke. So Jason has to drop everything and go with his dad down to St. Petersburg, Florida to go to the funeral and sell the old house. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Just what Jason wants to do with his summer. On top of all that, this funeral has made his dad seem more irritable, angry, and upset than normal. There's a lot of strange, mystrious, and unknown things about his grandmother's background. When they get there, all sort of strange things happen. Jason's dad explodes over an innocent line in the obituary, bizarre people that no one knows show up at the funeral, and an unknown person calls Jason on the phone and asks, "How smart are you?" All this seems to be tied in to his grandmother's unknown past. Then, while cleaning out the old house, a old, old postcard drops out of a desk. That postcard and a story in a cheap mystery magazine from the 1940's start yielding answers to the mysteries of his grandmother. But some really mysterious, and possibly dangerous, people seem to be looking for the same answers. Can Jason find out the answers in time? He'll find out that there was a lot more to his grandmother than he could ever have imagined!! You'll really get sucked into this story--you'll even get caught up in the magazine story that runs through this book. This is another of those books that make you want to spend every free moment reading it. Mystery, comedy, suspense--it's here in The Postcard. (This book is best for grades 5 and up)

Now I have to confess that I'm a fan of these old black and white mystery movies of the 1940's. They had real tough-guy stars as the detectives, great people like Humphey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. So I was glad that Mr. Abbott had a mystery tied in to that time. I'm an especailly big fan of stories with mysteries from a long time ago that change the lives of characters living now, just like Jason getting caught up in mysteries from fifty years before. You can imagine, then, that I was going to be upset if this book wasn't good. Well, I was not disappointed! It was everything I hoped a book like this would be. I think Humphrey Bogart said it best:

Yep, this book is the stuff dreams are made of. Go read it, guys!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YIKES!!!You are right,that Blond has to be from a VERY bad dream!

Hummmm if you like old detective movies I suggest you might like reading,

The Falcons Malteser
A Diamond brothers Mystery
By Anthony Horowitz
It is a funny and clever spoof of Bogart-inspired private-eye detective films. Bogart references are everywhere, from the title (the Falcon is a crime lord, who has hidden the secret to his diamond stash in a box of "Malteasers," malted-milk chocolate candies), to the appearance of a world-weary cabaret singer named Lauren Bacardi who performs at the Casablanca Club. 13 year old Nick's older brother, Herbert (aka Tim Diamond), is one of the worst detectives there has ever been. Nick helps him every step of the way because he needs all the help he can get. Mr. Horowitz provides a collection of the usual sorts of eccentric suspects—a dead dwarf, a crazed criminal professor "who invented computer fraud five years before someone invented the computer, and the oddly thin "Fat Man" who poisons London's pigeons just for fun. There are murders aplenty (including one of a department-store Santa). Nick narrates the story. The end of the story left me looking forward to the next installment of Nick's adventures.
And bout bad dreams with not so pretty blonds in them, may I suggest no more garlic and soy ice cream or whatever wierd stuff late night snacks there are to be had.