06 April 2015


F is for Ferguson

Today I move another book from the CLUTTER pile to the CLEAR pile . . . and get closer to CLEARING another old reading challenge from my CLUTTERED list of shame!

So far, it has taken an average of eight months to write a Young Detectives post about a Mystery novel written for Young Adult or Middle Grade readers. That's pretty slow blogging, reading, and scavenger hunting--something that I'd like to change this year.

Yeah, it's more of a Good Friday photo,
but our featured book is a Forensic Mystery

Dear Alane Ferguson,

Happy Easter! I was just thinking of how appropriate it is that my first post this Easter season gets to be one in which the dead are given justice, thanks to the living.

Timing aside, your book The Christopher Killer was already perfect for my Young Detectives reading project, in which I read and blog about Mystery novels written for young people, with a special focus on their mystery solvers. Perhaps the best thing I can say about your mystery solver Camryn Mahoney is that I don't like her all that much.

Now, I do admire her dedicated pursuit of what she wants and her ability to handle the challenges that come her way. It's not every seventeen-year-old girl who can impress the town coroner enough for him to hire her as his assistant . . . even if he also happens to be her father. (Heck, as her father, his expectations of her might be even higher!) What I'm not crazy about is her attitude and that unmistakable feminist chip she totes around on her shoulder. But I also realise that to complain about them would be to miss the boat a little.

A literary agent whose name I can't remember (I know, I know . . .) recently tweeted the excellent point that we shouldn't criticise teenage characters for being immature, when (I add) we don't expect real-life thirteen-year-olds to be as competent as thirty-year-olds. And it does seem unfair to be impatient with new-hire Camryn for the way she behaves around seasoned adults in the "death" business. On the other hand, she wouldn't be interacting with those adults if she hadn't been hired to work as their colleague (albeit one in training). So there's another sense in which it's perfectly fair to hold her to the same standards that we would have for any apprentice--including, ironically, the standard that links age to experience and ability. You've given us an interesting dichotomy in your young detective, Mrs. Ferguson!

There is nothing that I could teach Camryn about dealing with a crime scene and processing a body . . . but there are two things that I wish I could tell her about being a young woman in the professional world. The first is to stop thinking that she has enemies everywhere just because everyone else is older and male. An apprentice, no matter how naturally talented, just isn't a long-time professional's equal. The second is that what people say isn't half as important as what they do--a truth that I'm sure she is already starting to figure out for herself. That the medical examiner who snaps at her on their first meeting to go and play with some Barbies turns out to be one of her best allies--not because he grows to like her but because he does his job--is a fantastic plot point made sharper by that moral edge.

A moral that wasn't lost on me, by the way! Inasmuch as that is what we expect from professionals, I see that it would be condescending of me to say that I look forward to watching Camryn "grow" in later books in your series. Indeed, now that I think about it, what I really anticipate is seeing her crack more cases and put more murderers behind bars. Thanks for introducing me to her! 

Sincerely Yours,


Oh, speaking of death, if only metaphorically . . . This is the last blog post that I worked on in my family's old home . . . and above is the last photograph of me in our old home, in my old bedroom. In fact--and I'm not making this up--the movers have just rung the doorbell, so I'll have to put my laptop in its bag and get ready to haul some stuff away. See you!


Jenny said...

I like your review format for this one. Sounds like the main characters feminist attitude would get old really fast but the story sounds fun.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks! The open letter format was definitely one of my better ideas. I wish I had more of those, more often! LOL!

Camryn has good qualities, too, of course. I wonder whether her attitude is getting the way for me more than it should, which would be my problem rather than ehrs. =S

Itinérante said...

Happy Easter Enbrethiliel!!!

Enbrethiliel said...


Happy Easter, Itinerante!

Eve Penman said...

love the photo of you!

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Eve! =D

Sheila said...

Oh, sad ... moving is always an emotional roller coaster for me; good luck with it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks! =)