Set in the present day, in a bucolic small town on the East Coast, Down the Rabbit Hole, by Peter Abrahams, tells the story of Ingrid, a mystery loving middle schooler, who finds herself in the middle of an actual crime. Ingrid has an annoying football playing older brother, a busy realtor mom and distracted financier father. She is minding her own business, reading Sherlock Holmes, getting her braces adjusted and playing soccer. She meets up with the town eccentric, Crazy Kate, leaving her cleats at her home, and the next day, Crazy Kate ends up dead. Ingrid feels it is her duty to help solve the crime but is restricted by the fact that she was never supposed to have been in the woman’s home or even known her. Through her investigations, she uncovers a decades-old secret that her small town has hidden regarding a missing person, a lover, an actress and a murder. Her obtaining of a starring role in the local play puts her in touch with a variety of characters who may be involved in this mystery, and Kate uses all of her resources and creativity to bring the killer to justice.
While I looked forward to reading this well-reviewed mystery, I was ultimately disappointed. The characters don’t seem to grow or change and are really stuck in their stereotypical roles. The real action takes place in the first and the last ten pages of the book, with the great majority of the book plodding along at a slow pace. There are various relationships which have the possibility of being deep, such as the local police chief or various friends. The only relationship that had real depth and emotion was that of Ingrid and her grandfather. There was history, stubbornness and true caring between the two of them that just didn’t show up anywhere else in the book. The mystery itself was vaguely interesting, with the discovery of old letters, a diamond ring and a body, but it never quite takes off or grabs ahold of the readers.
I would not want to use this book in any type of discussion group. I would perhaps put it out on display with other young adult mysteries.
Abrahams, Peter Down the Rabbit Hole 2005. Harper Collins, New York.
In his first novel for kids, bestselling author Abrahams unspools a tale that fittingly gets curiouser and curiouser. The story shines on audio via a fine performance by Siegfried. As 13-year-old Ingrid Levin-Hill, Siegfried uses a youthful voice to convey the protagonist’s age-appropriate blend of smarts, awkwardness and stubborn streak. Budding thespian and sudden amateur sleuth (who idolizes Sherlock Holmes) Ingrid finds herself in the middle of both the community theater production of Alice in Wonderland and a local murder mystery. Will her connection to the deceased be discovered? Does the creepy new actor-director in town have something to do with it all? Listeners will stick with Ingrid to find out—and may well gather some of their own theories—in this satisfyingly suspenseful outing. The fresh dialogue and believable small-town setting will tempt fans to visit Echo Falls again for any sequels.
[Review of the book Down the Rabbit Hole]. Publishers Weekly. Retreived from www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-078664-9
It is hard for adult writers to make the leap to children’s books. Abrahams, a best-selling author, has made a graceful entry with his first young adult novel. He develops an intriguing character in Ingrid, an eighth grader who is obviously brilliant and, just as obviously, stubborn about where she is going to focus her mind. While she devours and thinks about Sherlock Holmes constantly, she is not going to buckle into the authority of a math teacher who seems pleased to give her failing grades. Nor is she going to admit to a police chief (and father of her first potential boyfriend) that she was at a crime scene just before a woman was murdered. When she discovers she left her red track shoes at the scene, she steals out of the house to reclaim them, linking herself to the crime and strengthening her resolve to discover the real culprit. There are lots of questions, some innocent sleuthing, and action from beginning to end.
Wilde, S. [Review of the book Down the Rabbit Hole]. Children’s Review. Retrieved from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/down-the-rabbit-hole-peter-abrahams/1100185982?ean=9780060737030