cover image Good Graces

Good Graces

Lesley Kagen. Dutton, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-95238-1

Kagen revisits the tumultuous lives of the O'Malley sisters in this spot-on sequel to her bestselling debut, Whistling in the Dark. In the sweltering summer heat of 1960 Milwaukee, life is almost back to normal for the 11-year-old Sally and her 10-year-old sister, Troo, after the events of the previous novel, and their widowed mother is now dating Sally's biological father, Dave Rasmussen, a detective. Though narrator Sally is staying out of trouble, Troo is stealing from the five-and-dime and talking dirty with boys, activities that earn her some time spent under the tutelage of Father Mickey, the new pastor at church. Meanwhile, burglaries have been occurring in the O'Malleys' neighborhood, and children have been winding up dead or missing. With their mother occupied with plans to remarry, Troo and Sally hatch a plan to catch the person responsible for the mayhem, and while the culprit isn't exactly surprising, the repercussions of the girls' ill-advised plan certainly are. Kagen does a remarkable job of balancing the goofiness of being an 11-year-old with the sinister plot elements, creating a suspenseful yarn that still retains an air of genuine innocence. Readers who enjoyed the first book are in for a treat. (Sept.)