Behind the Curtain : An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams is the second book in the Echo Falls series, after last year's Down the Rabbit Hole. These are Abrahams's first children's/young adult books, after writing many adult mysteries. I really enjoyed Down the Rabbit Hole (reviewed here), because it was a classic sort of mystery, with clues and red herrings and all of that, with a smart, realistic 13-year-old girl as the protagonist.
Behind the Curtain picks up not long after the solution of the previous mystery, and continues many of the family-related threads left open in the first book. Ingrid finds herself investigating steroid use at the local high school, while worrying about her brother's health, the stability of her father's job, and the pressure on her grandfather to sell his farm. Ingrid's Dad is particularly cranky in this installment, as he reacts poorly to competition at work. But Grampy remains his quirky and lovable self.
Here's my problem with this book, however. I saw the solution to all of the open questions very very early into the book. It was just too easy. Now, I know that I'm not the target age range for this book, and that I've read a lot more mysteries than most 13-year-olds have. But I still have trouble believing that kids wouldn't see the end coming a long way off.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. It's well-written. Abrahams has an excellent sense for the way kids think and interact. I like the town that Ingrid lives in, and I like the way family dynamics play an important part in the story. I also like Ingrid (she's on the Cool Girls list), and after two books, I feel like I know her pretty well. She trusts her own instincts, and she doesn't let anyone push her around. I'll certainly look for the next book in the series. I just hope that Abrahams learns to trust his readers a bit more, and ratchets up the mystery a bit.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.