________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 15 . . . .April 1, 2005


The Ghost of Lunenburg Manor. (Tom and Liz Austen Mystery).

Eric Wilson.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 1981/2003.
109 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 0-00-639316-0.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Julie Hunt.

*** /4



The Ghost of Lunenburg Manor was first published over 20 years ago and was re-released in 2003. With a jazzy new cover, the question that bears asking is whether the story still stands the test of time? Indeed it does. How can readers go wrong with tales of pirates, ghosts, and intriguing characters such as a fierce school custodian named Mad Dog, a moody butler, and an evil twin brother?

     Tom and Liz Austen find themselves embroiled in another mystery as they visit the fishing village of Stonehurst, Nova Scotia. Unusual events unfold right from the start of this action-packed adventure:

A light wind carried salty sea air to Tom Austen, a redheaded boy with many freckles, and his slim, dark-haired sister, Liz. "Who's this guy Teazer?" she asked the man.

"It's a ship, not a person. During the War of 1812, the Young Teazer was trapped here by the British Navy. One of the men, knowing he was doomed to swing from an English yardarm, deliberately blew up his own vessel. They say it was terrible, how the sky exploded into flames and the crewmen screamed as they died."

"But how can we see the same ship?"

"That's the strange thing, lass. Exactly a year after it blew up, the Young Teazer came back as a ghost ship. People saw a ball of fire sail across this bay, then suddenly flare up in a silent explosion and disappear. Since then, many have told of seeing the Teazer's light."

     Soon after this mysterious event, the young sleuths are invited to wealthy Professor Zinck's mansion. More ghost stories await them, and, while the kids question whether these tales are real, the true adventure begins. Professor Zinck takes Tom and Liz on an outing to the Money Pit on Oak Island. The teens leave him for a short while, and, when they return, they find him lying face down in the mud, bleeding profusely. Professor Zinck goes missing when the two leave him to seek medical help. While Professor Zinck later turns up at his home, he cannot remember the details of his attack. By the next day, Professor Zinck is dead of an insulin overdose, and the children are in terrible danger!

     Eric Wilson is true to style in this fast-paced, suspenseful mystery. The protagonists encounter more challenges in one book than most readers do in a lifetime. They are much like Wilson's childhood heroes, the Hardy Boys, in that they are strong, capable characters. Liz, for example, can disable a boat's engine, restart it in the nick of time, and steer through treacherous waters. Tempering these abilities is a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between Tom and Liz. In addition to a strong plot, Wilson uses varied vocabulary and vivid descriptions in his work. He adds this richness of language in a way that is accessible to most students:

They walked to the wharf past sleeping houses and stacks of lobster traps. Although it still seemed like the middle of the night, the waterfront was alive with activity. Even the seagulls were wide awake, wheeling and screaming above the little boats as they headed out to sea, their path through the darkness marked only by red and green running lights and the low growl of their engines.

     I recommend this book to mystery lovers at the intermediate level. Boys at the grades four to six level may find this book particularly appealing.


Julie Hunt is a teacher-librarian in West Vancouver, BC.

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

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