Monday, November 25, 2019

The Odds of Getting Even

The Odds of Getting Even
by Sheila Turnage
Recommended Ages: 11+

In the third of (so far) four Mo and Dale Mysteries, the Desperado Detectives of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina pick up a third partner – a charming boy named Harm, introduced in The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing as a possible rival to Miss Moses "Mo" LoBeau as the smartest kid the sixth grade class. He sort of becomes a rival in another way, as Mo feels the title of Dale's best friend slipping in Harm's direction – and at one point, the boys even vote her out as the detective in charge of their current investigation. But Mo kind of has it coming, assuming that Dale's daddy Macon is whodunit just because all the evidence points that way – and doubting the feeling in Dale's heart that tells him that Macon is not guilty.

What is Macon guilty or not guilty of? I mean, the guy escapes from jail in the middle of his trial for kidnapping Mo's guardians, part of a criminal conspiracy two books ago. Now there are clues that point toward Macon stealing the collection plate from the town's Baptist church, starting a fire that threatens his older son Lavender's life, breaking into the Johnson family's house and more sinister doings. Everyone thinks Macon has come back to town, perhaps threatening some kind of revenge against his estranged son, and is up to no good.

Poor Dale, who believes in his dad's innocence in spite of everything, would just like a reason to know Macon loves him – or that his friends trust him. Meantime, everyone in town seems to be turning against him and his family. Dale's plight and this rocky patch in his friendship with Mo are the stuff of a surprisingly moving, human story threaded among the humorous pranks, mysteries and manners of a small, southern U.S. town. Adding color to the adventure are a suspicious lady reporter from the big city, the pregnancy of a family dog, dirty tricks on the racetrack and the meanest old lady on the eastern seaboard. It's a fun, worthwhile return to the familiar world of Mo and Dale.

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