Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Hudson River Mystery by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #28)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few moments, a fast read
Cons: The plot is ludicrous and the characters are out of character.
The Bottom Line:
Story makes no sense
These aren’t characters we love
No reason to read

What Was This Author Thinking?

Many fans of the Trixie Belden series have books they hate, and there are some that are universally loathed.  I’m odd because some of the weaker books I like despite the weaknesses.  That’s not the case with The Hudson River Mystery.  Even when I read this one the first time as a teen, I could only shake my head and wonder how the book even got published.

A trip to pick up older brother Brian and his lab partner Loyola from the shores of the Hudson River lead to a mystery when Trixie thinks she sees a shark fin in the water.  Despite the fact that everyone tells her there is no way it could be true, she is certain of what she saw.  Thea Van Loon, a children’s author who is working on a book about the area, backs up Trixie.  But why does Trixie think there is something off about Thea?

But Trixie has a mystery closer to home to solve as well.  Brian isn’t acting like himself.  He’s even questioning if he still wants to be a doctor, and he feels sick and tired.  What could be causing the shift in his personality?

So what’s wrong with the book?  Where do I even start?

How about the characters?  Every single one of them is completely out of character.  Trixie, while occasionally thoughtless and too quick to speak over the course of the series, hits new lows in this book.  Honestly, I want to slap her a few times.  The rest of her friends are also off, and more than just a little bit.  Brian’s odd behavior is part of the plot, but the rest of them?  There’s no explanation for it.

The plot in this book is really two smaller plots.  The story with Brian is the focus early on, and as that gets resolved, the shark takes bigger prominence.  All I can figure with the shark is they were trying to capitalize on Jaws, which came out a year or two earlier.  But really, a shark in the Hudson?  I can easily understand why everyone else was ridiculing Trixie – it’s pretty unbelievable.  Yes, there is an explanation for what Trixie saw, but it is so crammed into the end, it’s a data dump.  Oh, and Brian?  There’s a disclaimer at the end that nullifies that plot as well.

Plus let’s discuss the fact that this book is set at Halloween.  (In fact, the climax takes place on Halloween night.)  We’ve just had The Mystery of the Headless Horseman and The Mystery of the Ghostly Galleon.  Both would have been better books set during Halloween.  That’s never made sense to me either.

Complaints aside, there are a couple of fun moments between the characters, and it is a fast read.  But that’s about all the book has going for it.

I really don’t get why this book was even published.  It should have been scrapped as a bad idea before it was even written.  If you are new to the series, you’ll be turned off by this book, so don’t start here.  However, even fans aren’t missing much if they miss The Hudson River Mystery.

I do highly recommend you find a different book in the Trixie Belden Mystery series.  Most of them are quite enjoyable.


  1. The what was the author thinking comment made me laugh. This definitely sounds like one I'll miss. This is one of the series that I've been thinking of picking up since I somehow missed it when I was a child so I'm glad to hear most are good even with the occasional exception!

    1. Any series that has 39 books is going to have a few misses, even when the same author writes them all. But I highly recommend the first four and many others in the series.

  2. I never really thought of this, but this seems to be the Trixie Belden book that has a Black character in it. I think this is the first non-white character in the series. It does feel a bit awkward-like she was shoehorned in. (But maybe I'm too cynical)