From Charlie's Point of View: A Mystery

Richard Scrimger, Author . Dutton/Sleuth $10.99 (278p) ISBN 978-0-525-47374-9

Canadian author Scrimger (The Nose from Jupiter ) makes his U.S. debut with this stylized mystery laced with humor, centering on Charlie, a perceptive, blind 14-year-old, whose feisty best friend, Bernadette, willingly acts as his eyes. The novel's third-person narrative unfolds in theatrical scenes and constantly shifts perspectives, yet the primary player is Charlie, whose "point of view depends mostly on hearing, touch, smell, and imagination." As he and Bernadette ride the bus on their first day of school, she spies a person in a stocking mask running out of a bank. Could it be the Stocking Bandit who has been robbing cash machines throughout the summer? Their tardy, slick teacher explains "there was a holdup" and later, while giving his students a writing assignment, urges them to "Learn to lie!" Thus the author plants the clues to his guilt. Yet when Charlie's father is accused of being the Stocking Bandit and the boy, Bernadette and a likeable, rather nerdy classmate set out to find the real culprit, his identity appears to be someone other than the smooth-talking teacher. Scrimger fills his plot with creative cues, clues and coincidences (the latter involving a guardian angel-type character) and adds some affecting scenes with the three youngsters' families. But a surfeit of extraneous detail and protracted conversation diffuse the suspense. Readers will nonetheless find the finale worth the wait, as the author satisfactorily ties together the story's strands as the curtain falls. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-14-240818-6
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-88776-679-4
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