cover image The Dollhouse Murders

The Dollhouse Murders

Betty Ren Wright. Live Oak Media (NY), $25.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87499-523-7

Wright's taut, suspenseful novel proves a solid choice to kick off the Live Oak Mysteries audio series. The attic is always a great place to look for nuggets of one's family history, but when 12-year-old Amy explores her great-grandparents' attic, she uncovers clues to a chilling family secret. As Amy and her Aunt Claire sift through clothes, trinkets and other memorabilia, Amy comes across Aunt Claire's long-forgotten dollhouse, a finely crafted replica of the house they are in. Aunt Claire seems unusually distressed about the dollhouse and Amy is determined to find out why. The real fun begins when Amy learns that the dolls in the dollhouse move of their own will--and that they seem to be trying to tell her something. After a little sleuthing at the local library, Amy learns that her great-grandparents were murdered years ago and that Aunt Claire's fianc (who died in a car accident that same night) was the prime suspect in the unsolved case. Before long, Amy unravels the mystery, helping Aunt Claire to resolve her feelings about the past. A subplot about Amy's relationships with her parents, younger sister and best friend adds depth and warmth to this crisply paced tale. Stewart handles the narration with aplomb, using her voice to give listeners a hint of each character's personality. Her portrayal of Aunt Claire, who delivers a few chillingly snappish retorts to Amy, is particularly strong. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)