Pros: Exciting book with great character development
Cons: None in my eyes
The Bottom Line:
New guy comes to town
Is he good or is he bad?
Trixie will find out
Ice Carnivals, Catamounts, and Cowboy Boots
The Black Jacket Mystery represents the second effort by "Kathryn Kenny" in the Trixie Belden Mystery series. Unlike many of her mystery series brethren (like Nancy Drew), Trixie's first six adventures were all written by a real person, Julie Campbell. When Ms. Campbell decided she no longer wanted to write about the characters, she sold the rights to her publisher, who continued them under the pen name. Despite a few flaws, this is an excellent entry in the series.
The series centers around Trixie and her family and friends. She's a thirteen year old with normal teenage problems like homework, chores, and an annoying younger brother. Her best friend is Honey Wheeler. The Wheeler's own the mansion next door to the Belden home on
Glen Road, and it is filled with
servants. They've also adopted Jim Frayne, a fifteen year old the two girls
befriended early in the series. Rounding out the cast are Trixie's brothers
Mart and Brian and their friend Diana Lynch. Together, the six teens have
formed the club the Bob-Whites of the Glen.
It's still the dead of winter. As Trixie is heading home from school one day, she overhears the Wheeler's groom Reagan talking about some problem he needs help solving. The fact that he wants it kept quiet from the young people only makes Trixie more curious.
All that is forgotten on Monday when a mysterious new kid enrolls in
. Dan arrives with Mr. Maypenny, the
Wheeler's game keeper. Is he a long lost relative of the old man? Dan's
attitude immediately turns Trixie off, and she decides he is up to no good. Sleepyside
The impression grows when things start disappearing around
Glen Road. Some of
the clues point to Dan, but he claims to be innocent. Then again, some of the
clues point away from Dan.
Meanwhile, the Bob-Whites have started another service project, this time an ice carnival to help the school library of Trixie and Honey's pen pals in
And there is a wild catamount on the loose in the Wheeler game preserve. How
does all this fit together? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find
I mentioned some flaws earlier, and they mostly revolve around timing. A couple of the things in this book are inconsistent with each other, but I only noticed them after rereading the book multiple times as an adult. Also funny, the book makes reference to the characters being bored since the last book ended, yet time wise, this one had to start before the last one ended. Okay, so these are the nit picks of an adult. Trust me, they don't really ruin the story.
And it is a great story. There is lots of action to keep any reader turning pages. Heck, I get caught up in events every time I reread the book, and I know what is happening. And the climax is one of my favorites. It's emotionally satisfying while providing nail biting suspense.
Finally, there are the strong characters. Frankly, they've always been one of the draws of the series for me. Some of the Kathryn Kennys got it wrong, turning the characters into shallow imitations of themselves. Not so here. They are as vibrant as ever, showing strength and weakness appropriately and providing some laughs along the way as well.
Unlike many series for kids, this series is best read in order, at least for the first 10 books or so. Heck, reading them out of order will spoil some events of this book. Plus, there is so much back story, it's easier to absorb it a little at a time over the first few books.