Skeleton Creek

Patrick Carman, Author . Scholastic $14.99 (185p) ISBN 978-0-545-07566-4

In a much-anticipated “multi-platform” mystery, Carman (the Land of Elyon series) tells of two small-town teens who go looking for trouble in an abandoned dredge once used to find gold. Presented as the journal of 15-year-old Ryan, the book is produced on ruled paper and in a font resembling handwriting; Ryan unfolds the details of the recent accident that has left him laid up with a broken leg. Periodically, Ryan receives e-mails from Sarah, his fellow sleuth, who is still hunting down clues about ghostly sightings at the dredge, and, armed with a video camera, is posting her findings on a Web site. (Readers can access the site with the passwords in the book.) The premise is more intriguing than the execution. Clues come slowly and don't keep the reader guessing so much as perplexed: Sarah's brief clips are just as much hair-twirling musings as plot-thickeners. Readers should know in advance what the otherwise enticing package does not make clear: this is the first in a series, and anyone expecting that it will end on anything but a cliff-hanger will be disappointed. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
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