________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 11 . . . . January 23, 2009

cover Nowhere to Turn. (A Robyn Hunter Mystery).

Norah McClintock.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009.
258 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99730-0.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery stories.
Theft-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Ruth Latta.

*** /4


Beej's news had really thrown me. Nick in trouble — again — after all the progress he'd made? He'd been in trouble before. Plenty of it. He had served time ... Before he'd vanished he'd started going to school full-time and had been working part-time washing dishes at LaFolie. My father had let him have an apartment on the second floor of his building. And I'd been crazy about him ...


"I came because Beej said you were in trouble and we used to be friends."

"Friends?" he said. "Is that what we were?" He shook his head. "I don't need your help." ... "Things would never have worked out with us anyway. You and I live in different worlds. Beej is more my type."

Norah McClintocks' sixth Robyn Hunter Mystery, Nowhere to Turn, continues the story of Robyn's on-again, off-again romance with Nick d'Angelo. Robyn, believing that she was over Nick, has started seeing Ben, a considerate youth from an upper middle class family. Then B.J. (Beej), a friend of Nick's, seeks her out in a coffee shop to talk about Nick. Beej, a client of the drop-in centre for the homeless where Robyn volunteers, tells her that Nick is suspected of stealing a valuable coin collection. It belonged to Mr. Shuster, a senior citizen who volunteered in the "dog program" of the anger management course that Mike attended. Some coins were found on Nick. Did he steal them, or were they planted on him?

     Robyn, whose father is a former police officer turned private detective and whose mother is a lawyer, is in a good position because of her parental connections to help Nick. In the course of her investigations, she meets Mr. Shuster's son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren her own age, and is hired to walk Mr. Shuster's dog, Orion. The big black animal, relinquished by his original owners because of his behaviour problems, is being kept in the Shusters' basement. Though Robyn fears dogs as much as the Shusters do, she wins Orion's confidence. Does her success with the dog, who is akin to Nick, foreshadow a reconciliation with him?

     Robynís efforts to find the real thief take her to hospital wards and abandoned warehouses and to a variety of social environments. When she assures Ben that she is no longer attracted to Nick, he takes her at her word and helps her clear Nick's name. Subsequently, young Mr. Shuster, Robyn's father, and the head of the animal program help Nick get his life on track again.

     McClintock tells her story from the point of view of a middle class girl who nobly follows her heart into what is, to her, an underworld. The contrasts could have been enhanced to achieve more tension and suspense.

     School and public libraries will purchase Nowhere to Turn for young women readers from all social backgrounds. Will readers from Beej and Nick's milieu identify with Robyn and read the novel through, or will they dismiss the narrator/central character as a "prissy, sissy, spoiled rich kid?" Told from Beej's point of view or Nick's, the story might have been more compelling, but this narrative choice would not fit the teen romance/mystery genre.

     The main issue in this novel is not who-done-it, but whether or not Robyn and Nick will find happiness together, a question which will probably not be answered until several more books in the series are published. "When I closed my eyes that night ... and pictured myself walking through a snowy day," Robyn muses, "why did I see myself hand in hand with Nick, and not with Ben?"


An author, Ruth Latta lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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