Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: The Mystery Off Glen Road by Julie Campbell (Trixie Belden #5)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few fun character moments
Cons: Everything about the plot
The Bottom Line:
The plot makes no sense
Few characters moments are
Barely worth reading

The First Stumble

No matter how much you love a series, not everything about it is perfect. I will admit that at times my love can cover a multitude of sins. But that's not always the case.

Take The Mystery Off Glen Road, for example. It's the fifth in the Trixie Belden series, a series of kid's mysteries that I still read and love even as an adult. Yet this book isn't the reason why. In fact, if I had started here, I might have quit before I read any further.

Thirteen year old Trixie and her friends live in Sleepyside on the Hudson, New York. They have just formed a semi-secret club called the Bob Whites of the Glen (since they live on Glen Road), and have fixed up the old gatehouse on the Wheeler property as their clubhouse.

When a hurricane blows through Sleepyside, it blows a tree into the just completed clubhouse. Now the Bob Whites must figure out some way to get the money to fix it before winter comes and ruins everything inside. When Trixie's older brother Brian donates the money he had been saving to buy a neighbor's car, Trixie and her best friend Honey Wheeler work overtime to come up with some way to repay him. They hit upon the idea of patrolling the Wheeler's game preserve. But when Trixie begins to suspect that a poacher is on the loose, the girls may have more then they can handle.

Now, before I trash it, I'll give the other side. Many fans absolutely love this book because of the character interactions. I'll admit, the well developed characters are one of the things that still draws me to this series. And there are some great character moments here. But laughing along with the characters and sharing their friendships isn't enough to save this book.

You see, I like the characters I love to be in a good story. And that's just not the case here. Now, I often miss plot holes or errors on a first go around. But the first time I read this book, I was furious with the ending. It made absolutely no sense to me then and still makes no sense to me almost 20 years later. And the plot that gets us to that weak ending is incredibly thin. I've often joked that the title really should be The Non-Existent Mystery off Glen Road. Heck, even I didn't believe one of Trixie's theories, and I have bought some of her crazier ones. Since the plot is so thin, the book is enhanced by pages of Trixie and Honey talking without advancing anything. The slow pace really gets to this action oriented guy long before the final page.

If you like Trixie, you'll want to read The Mystery Off Glen Road and form your own opinion. However, if you are new to this wonderful girl detective, start with the first four. They are much better books to get you as addicted as I am to Trixie and her friends.

And if you do like Trixie, you'll be interested in the rest of the Trixie Belden Mysteries.


  1. While I do like the later books better than Julie Campbell's, I did not think this one was especially bad. But that's the beauty of having different tastes

    1. There are a lot of people who love this one. While I love well done characters, I must have a story that interests me, and this one just doesn't cut it.

  2. Interesting that the end made you furious because it made no sense to you -- I was wondering when I last re-read it why I didn't get mad over the ending the way I did with a similar book, and I think it's because this time I saw it coming a mile away. Not sure why, since the book has some major logic flaws, but for whatever reason I never got as caught up in things as Trixie did, so didn't end the book feeling the author cheated.

    OTOH, I really hated the "Trixie crushing on Ben" subplot. For one thing, I saw the fatal flaw in her plan way before Trixie did, so the whole time I thought she was making a fool of herself for nothing.