Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: The Mystery of the Queen's Necklace by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #23)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few scenes and some supporting characters in the second half
Cons: The rest of the book
The Bottom Line:
Merry ole England
Proves disappointing entry
Die hard fans only

Across the Pond for a Disappointing Trip

I belong to a couple of message boards for the Trixie Belden mystery series, and the general conscientious is that The Mystery of the Queen's Necklace is a disappointing book.  While never one of my favorites, I thought it was average for the series.  But a recent reread has made me realized just how flawed it is.

This is book twenty-three in the series that stars fourteen-year-old Trixie Belden, a detective in training, and her family and friends.  Most of them stay home this time, so it’s just her brother Mart, her best friend Honey Wheeler, Honey’s adopted brother Jim, and their chaperone Miss Trask who are around for this book.

Trixie is excited when Honey’s family extends an invitation to visit England Officially, they are going to track down Honey’s mother’s family tree with a possible connection to Shakespeare and also try to find out about a necklace that Honey just inherited from a great aunt.  But that should leave them with plenty of time for sight seeing, too.

And it’s the sight seeing that gets them into trouble.  While touring London, Trixie spots a pick pocket.  And then she starts seeing him everywhere he goes.  Meanwhile, Trixie doesn’t trust their new guide even though everyone else in the group loves him.  What is going on?

Okay, so one of the problems with the book is the topic.  Genealogy and a necklace as the genesis of a mystery aimed at middle graders?  This is an idea that should have been nipped in the bud long before it got written.  I mean, how exciting can it be to read about someone searching for old relatives in libraries.

Wisely, most of the research happens off page by Miss Trask.  But still, the book becomes a long travelogue.  The plot consists of Trixie saying something is mysterious and everyone else in the group telling her she is imagining things.  Rinse and repeat with the occasional other character thinking that maybe Trixie has a point.  The plot doesn’t really lead anywhere until we reach the climax, and then things are so rushed that a few major pieces of the story are not wrapped up completely.

But at least we’re spending time with Trixie and her friends, right?  In some cases, that might be enough to help us along, but here it doesn’t quite work either.  None of the main cast really feels like themselves, but poor Trixie is the worst.  When she is not busy complaining about the cold reception they are getting from the British, she is behaving like a clueless American tourist.  Really, it’s just embarrassing.  Fortunately, that dies down about half way through.

And don’t get me started on poor Miss Trask who has to endure a repeated sub-plot brought over from the last book.

Fortunately, there are a few scenes I really enjoy and in the second half we meet some new supporting characters I really like.  The climax is not to be missed, and Miss Trask plays a big part in it.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite scenes with this character in the series.

Unfortunately, those little bits aren’t enough to help ease the book up to average, which is how I originally thought of it as a kid.  Looking at it now as an adult, I find The Mystery of the Queen's Necklace to be pretty disappointing.

Definitely don't pick this book up until you've read earlier books from the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.

This is an entry in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.  Come see what else people are reading.

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