Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #16)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The characters are (mostly) their charming selves
Cons: The mystery is obvious way too early
The Bottom Line:
Characters are great
But the mystery is weak
Fans will still enjoy

Jim Gets a Cousin and Janie Finds Her Memory

I've got to confess, it's been a few years since I read any of the Trixie Belden books.  I changed that by picking up The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, the sixteenth book in this series for kids.  I must confess this has never been a favorite for me.  On the other hand, I loved spending time with these characters again.

For those not familiar with the series, it revolves around Trixie Belden, a 14-year-old living in Sleepyside, New York, about 45 minutes from New York City.  She keeps finding mysteries and drags her friends along.  These friends include her brothers Brian and Mart as well as best friend Honey Wheeler and her adopted brother Jim.

It's late summer, and Trixie and her friends are out for a ride when they discover someone is training a nearby swamp to build a factory.  The owner of that land is in question, however, and the teens soon learn that the own is Jim's biological aunt, a relative he didn't know existed.  While the aunt is dead, Trixie soon turns up a cousin for Jim who has inherited the money.

But just as Jim's cousin Julianna arrives in town, a young woman is involved in an accident.  "Janie" as she comes to be called, has lost her memory.  Can Trixie help Janie figure out who she really is?

I love these characters.  I have spent so much time reading and rereading these books over the years they feel like good friends.  Part of the fun comes when they take time for cookouts and horseback riding in the middle of the book.  Yes, those events do usually lead to a clue or event, but I like the down town as well.  Dan especially, but also Diana, the other two teens in the circle of friends, contribute to the story as well instead of being sidelined the entire book like sometimes happens.  Mart and Trixie bicker quite a bit at the beginning of the story, and that got on my nerves a little, but it's died down quickly as the story got rolling.

Of course, without a good plot, a book suffers overall, and that's the case here.  Even the first time I read it, I had the entire plot figured out and actually got bored waiting for Trixie to catch up.  Okay, so I did have a head start because I read the next book in the series first and it spoils quite a bit of the story here.  But anybody familiar with the series would pick up on things from the characterizations.  I don't mind as much on a reread because I'm really doing it just to spend time with the characters, but even know it screams out to me how obvious the solution is.  On the other hand, this is the only book in the series where not everyone we meet (except the villain) ends the book happy.

Something I never noticed as a kid is how much these books are narrated by dialogue.  Often one character will tell another what that second character is doing.  It adds some print to the page I guess, but it does annoy me.  That's what regular narration is for.  Some of the other books in the series are actually worse, but I did notice it here, especially in the big group scenes.

This is an interesting book position wise.  It bridges the gap between number 15, which came out five years earlier, and book 17, which came out seven years later and was the first in a glut that were published over the next four years.  I still can't get over the fact that, even seven years later, book 17 is in every way a sequel to this book.

The Mystery of the Missing Heiress isn't my least favorite book in the series, but the plot certainly drags it down.  The characters are enough to make me enjoy it, but I wish the mystery were truly mysterious.

Looking for other mysteries in this series?  Check out the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.

1 comment:

  1. You said, " Trixie and her friends are out for a ride when they discover someone is training a nearby swamp to build a factory" How do they train the swamp? Would feeding it frogs and swamp bogs help? Maybe they should train factories to build swamps! Hehe! (I know what you mean, I just marvel at your choices of sentence structure!)

    Actually, this book and the next one are among my favourite of the series! Yes, I too figured out who the villain was (although you mentioned having a slight advantage having read the sequel book first-that is ALL THE ADVANTAGE since they rehash the entire plot in the first chapter!), but still, I think the plot is interesting, and it is neat to see how our heroes get from point A to the conclusion.

    Jim's cousin is an interesting character, and I really enjoyed the details of this one