cover image The Moonlight Man

The Moonlight Man

Betty Ren Wright. Scholastic Press, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-590-25237-9

Wright (A Ghost in the Family) spins a suspenseful modern-day gothic but leaves a few threads of the frame story dangling. Shortly after 15-year-old narrator Jenny Joslin and her family moves to Crescent Lane, she experiences a series of supernatural occurrences. Photographs appearing and disappearing from the wall, loud sobbing noises emerging from neighbor April's house and a sequence of household disasters next door all seem to be connected to a ""moonlight man,"" an apparition both Jenny and her younger sister have seen wandering in the woods surrounding their street. In an attempt to find out the cause of these mysterious goings-on, Jenny researches the histories of former residents and interrogates her crotchety neighbors, the Carpeks, who have lived in the same house for more than 50 years. While many clues lead nowhere, the protagonist fits together enough pieces to reconstruct a tragic tale of ill-fated love. Readers anxious to reach the final unraveling of events may overlook a few narrative shortcomings: two-dimensional minor characters, contrived plot details and the undeveloped subplots of Jenny's tenuous friendship with self-centered April and the heroine's grief over her mother's death. Though the mystery may be solved by book's end, the narrative raises at least as many uncertainties for Jenny's future on Crescent Lane as it clears for her neighborhood's past. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)