JOPLIN, Mo. —
‘The Girl is Murder’
By Kathryn Miller Haines
Iris’ life is upside down. Her pop is home from the Navy because of an injury he sustained at the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her mother is dead, and Iris is about to start her sophomore year at the Lower East Side’s P.S. 110 -- a far cry from her former posh Upper East Side private school.
As Iris struggles to find her place in school and with her pop, she begins to realize that Pop’s detective business isn’t doing so well. His ill-fitting prosthetic leg slows him down and makes him memorable to those he is investigating. Obviously, Pop needs help, and Iris thinks she’s just the girl for the job.
After secretly but successfully documenting the affair of a client’s unfaithful wife -- a case Pop struggled with considerably -- Iris thinks her pop will welcome her help with open arms.
Of course, this is not the case. Pop tells Iris, in no uncertain terms, that she is to leave the detecting to him and to concentrate on being a teenager.
When a boy at Iris’ new school goes missing and Pop is hired to find him, Iris decides that she will be Pop’s assistant even if she has to lie to almost everyone in order to make that happen.
Iris’ former good girl persona is shed fairly quickly as she manipulates the truth to her pop and her new friends to find out what happened to Tom. She forms a tentative bond with one of the girls from Tom’s old gang, The Rainbows, and finds herself hanging out with the “wrong” crowd, swing dancing in Harlem and even drinking a little alcohol.
Getting into trouble and lying gets Iris to the bottom of things, but repairing the relationships damaged along the way may prove just a difficult as solving the mystery.
Initially, I hesitated to buy “The Girl is Murder” because the cover art, while capturing the 1940s noir vibe fairly well, doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a good book! Check me out!” (You know we all really do judge books by their covers, right?)
Cover art aside, I am very thankful I decided to trust my gut and get this book. Haines sets the 1940s stage so well I felt like I was watching a movie from that era.
The characters are solid, believable people who make the pages fly with their witty, slang-filled dialogue. The mystery surrounding Tom’s disappearance is well constructed with enough twists to keep readers interested. And Iris’ struggle to navigate her new surroundings and fit in are painfully real.
I was most intrigued by the little details of life in the early 1940s -- rationing, racial and class tension, patriotism, etc. I am not typically a reader of historical fiction, but add a little mystery to the history and I’m all in.
“The Girl is Murder” is an excellent choice for teens and adults who like historical fiction or mysteries. The sequel, “The Girl is Trouble” will be out next summer -- with a cover that looks very similar to this one. Maybe I’m wrong about the cover’s appeal.
Cari Rerat is the teen librarian for the Joplin Public Library.
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Green meanie: Seuss' famous fink adapted into dance by Midwest Regional Ballet
Dancers in the Midwest Regional Ballet Company may come from Neosho, Carl Junction, Carthage, Pittsburg, Kan., and other Four States cities, but next weekend they'll all be residents of Whoville.
New levels of classic Chirismas story revealed
Kylie Kimbley was very specific before accepting the role of Della Young in a production of "The Gift of the Magi": She wouldn't accept the role if she had to cut her hair.
Exhibit to feature photos of graffiti in major cities
For local artist Linda Teeter, creating her images of urban graffiti was about experiencing and capturing a different culture.
Children's Christmas play features fairy-tale siblings
Two German children from fairy tales get lost again in a Christmas play for children.
Dave Woods: 'Camp Calamity' spurs autograph pursuit
A little elf -- Bob Wolfe from Bob's Always Buying Books -- uncovered a treasure few but me would love. He discovered a rag-tag copy of "Janet Lennon at Camp Calamity" at his store.
Benji Tunnell: 'Frozen' helps Disney recapture a bit of its lost magic
This is a very refreshing change from weaker Disney offerings such as "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons," and a sign that the studio is finally learning how to properly meld its storied past with its Pixar-driven present.
Jeremiah Tucker: Country heavyweights help 'Duck Dynasty' sound clean
Released by Universal Music Group, the music on "Duck the Halls" sounds like any other handsomely produced country product churned out by the Nashville machine. For such a legendarily ungroomed family, not a hair is out of place here
Joe Hadsall: Tipping made awkward by tablet computers
I'm sure tablet computers are great for a lot of things, but I do not like how they are messing up tipping.
Ann Leach: Learning to receive is also important
Throughout my formative years, I learned to find great gifts for people. I would constantly hear, "This is perfect for me," exclaimed with such genuine delight that even I got excited about it. It was fun for me then, and it still is today.
Fantastic plastic: Joplin woman's Barbie collection spans 35 years
When Toni LoPresti was 4 years old, a new doll hit the New York Toy Fair. Her name was Barbie, and she was a 12-inch-tall teenage fashion model wearing a black and white bathing suit, open-toed shoes, gold hoop earrings and shades.
- More Lifestyles Headlines
- Green meanie: Seuss' famous fink adapted into dance by Midwest Regional Ballet