When you are fourteen and your parents want to move, you don’t have much choice in the matter. Tracy Denton is that fourteen year old and she is not happy at all about moving with the family to Stonesthrow, Missouri. This move was the idea of her parents, Jack and Ellen Denton, who have big plans for the old house and small farm. For Tracy, none of her friends are around, the new house is an old dirty one that needs lots of work, and there is nothing fun to do or kids her age as she can see nobody around. The only thing nearby seems to be an old barn.
She soon learns that old barn is a great vantage point to see what is going on all around the area. It is there where 14 year old Tracy will meet the slightly older Harley Peebles. Thanks to Harley, Tracy will meet the Haney Twins as well as be involved in a mystery that goes back decades.
The Necklace by Shirley McCann is billed as a middle grade mystery. While the main characters are teens, this mystery is not at all written for the teen audience and does not remotely read like a teen book. Instead, it is written for adult readers with adult sensibilities. One small example of this is this early passage in Chapter One where Tracy deals with her reaction to being spooked by bull frogs in the nearby pond.
“Not nearly as much as they scared me,” I remarked softly. Embarrassed, I looked away, pretending to conduct a mental survey of the area, before summoning the courage to face him again. I turned back, hoping the color in my cheeks had returned to its normal shade. (Kindle Locations 85-87).
Then there is this example early in Chapter Two:
“By the time I returned from the loft yesterday afternoon, my parents had already assembled and made the beds. They had also deposited numerous boxes into each room of the house. At their request, I helped line the kitchen cabinets with decorative shelf paper. Then I rummaged through the boxes marked “kitchen”, distributing plates, cups, and saucers into the designated areas. (Kindle Locations 170-173).
While readers are told that this is a 14 year old girl, the actions and thoughts of Tracy Denton throughout the book suggest something entirely different. Instead of a teen girl, the impression of the character is one of a middle aged conservative woman. She does not see the world as a teen would nor does she ever respond to anything as a teen would. The same is true for the other teen characters throughout the book. All of the characters in the book, teen and adult, display the same adult thought process and mature action far beyond their years. Instead of being the middle grade book it is marketed as The Necklace is very much an adult cozy style novel primarily populated with teens.
Which is not to say it isn’t a good book. If you ignore the obvious discrepancy between what the book actually is and how it is portrayed marketing wise, the read itself is a good one. Tracy and her friends probe a mystery that goes back quite a few years while doing their best to remain undetected. Author Shirley McCann has created interesting characters in an interesting situation that keeps the reader turning the pages. While not a book that will appeal to its intended audience The Necklace is very much an enjoyable read.
E-Book (also available as a paperback)
Material was picked up during the author’s recent free book promotion for my use in an objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2013