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Black Duck

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The book that I chose for this review on the mystery genre is Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle. The Penguin Group published it in 2006. Black Duck is a mystery book due to moments of suspense and puzzle solving. This 249-page book caught my eye due to its interesting cover illustration and a quote from the book. After reading that quote, I immediately started reading it and ended up liking it very much.

The story is told to a high school freshman, David Peterson, by an old neighbor, Ruben Hart. David is searching for a report to be featured in the local paper. The story that Mr. Hart begins to narrate takes place in 1929 in the city of Newport when Ruben was 14. Ruben has one main friend, Jeddy, whose dad is chief of police. Ruben and Jeddy were looking around a beach for items they could profit off of when they spot a dead, pale body floating along the shore. The deceased male obviously used to be quite wealthy due to his expensive suit, gold watch, and fancy pipe and tobacco pouch. When Jeddy wasn’t looking, Ruben slipped the tobacco pouch into his pocket and saw it had a ticket in it. They figure out later on that this guy was a big-time liquor smuggler. All the other smugglers are after the ticket he had which is for a big shipment of liquor. This is where the book gets interesting because all of the smugglers are headed toward Newport. Then, soon enough, the word gets out that Ruben has the ticket in his possession. Now he is in for a trip and realizes that friends and neighbors are actually liquor smugglers.

I think the writing of this book is mostly brief. It’s short, sweet, and to the point, which can be good or bad at times. For example, “A lot of people in town were angry.” (Lisle 123) If the sentences had just a little more detail and better word choices, it would be just right. The chapters are just the right length (about 10 pages per chapter). The chapters don’t seem to last forever and the chapters are not just one paragraph in length. A strength of this book is its ability to keep your eyes glued to it. The quick-paced plot and the things you never saw coming persuade you to keep turning the page. A weakness is its quantity of characters. There are so many that you may have to write them all down onto a piece of paper in order not to forget them. I would definitely recommend this book to peers due to the opinions above.

Again, Black Duck contains good, basic writing and pulls you into its pages. It is a great mystery and is very suitable for all ages.





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