________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 16 . . . .April 14, 2006


Not a Trace. (A Chloe and Levesque Mystery).

Norah McClintock.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
236 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 0-439-95760-5.

Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Land tenure-Juvenile fiction.
Murder-Juvenile fiction.
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 6 and up /Ages 11 and up.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

**½ /4



…I pulled on the gloves and went back outside to clean up the mess the raccoons had made, making sure to breathe through my mouth. Yuck, what a mess. I tried not to look at the glop that I was shoveling into the garbage bags. But you know how it is. Sometimes the harder you try not to look, the more likely you are to see.

I saw something.

Seeing something in a heap of garbagey goo and reaching into that garbagey goo to pick up that something are two different things, so for sure I wouldn’t have bothered if it weren’t for the handwriting. Scribbly, scratchy handwriting that was, as I had already discovered, quite decipherable. It was Ross’s handwriting, on one of those thin little stick-on labels that come with audiocassettes so that you can keep track of what’s been recorded on the tape.

According to the label, it was Ross’s interview with Fletcher Blake.

It was the cassette that had somehow been destroyed.

Except that it didn’t look even remotely destroyed. There was no tape spilling out of it. The case didn’t look broken. It wasn’t even particularly gooey or gloppy. In fact, apart from its surroundings, it looked perfectly fine.


Not a Trace is the seventh installment in the “Chloe and Levesque” mystery series by Norah McClintock. Two of the titles — Scared to Death and Break and Enter — were recipients of the Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction. Originally set in Montreal, the series follows teenaged Chloe and police investigator, Louis Levesque, as they pick their way through mystery after mystery. The series began with a younger, self-centred Chloe, who was herself a suspect in a crime Levesque was trying to solve. During the course of his investigation, he began dating Chloe’s mother. In subsequent books, the relationship bloomed, marriage followed, and the family — minus Chloe’s sister, Brynn, who stayed in Montreal — relocated to a small, rural, tourist town in Ontario where Levesque assumed the role of Chief of Police.

     This most recent book finds Chloe taking on a full-time babysitting job as school closes for the summer. Her mother and Levesque are set to embark on their much-delayed honeymoon — a visit to Montreal and then off to Paris. Since Chloe’s younger sister, Phoebe, is away working as a camp counselor, Chloe is looking forward to a summer of independence. But sudden trouble in the community changes all that. A group of entrepreneurs promoting a new golf course meet armed opposition from First Nations people who want the golf course relocated away from their ancestral burial ground. As the confrontations between the two factions heat up, Levesque sends his wife on alone to Montreal with the promise that he will soon follow. However, when Trevor Blake — the contractor hired by the entrepreneurs and the father of the little girl Chloe babysits — is murdered, Levesque’s departure is delayed again, causing family friction.

     During all of this, 16-year-old Chloe has been babysitting and working on a summer romance with Adam Fuller, son of the man promoting the golf course. It is Levesque’s job to investigate crime, but it is the combination of his digging and Chloe’s incidental discoveries that actually solves the mystery. Much of the time, Chloe isn’t actively searching for clues, but her associations with a reporter for the local paper, the family of the murdered man, and the suspect charged with the killing, make Chloe privy to information Levesque would know nothing about. Of course, when things get right down to the nitty-gritty, Chloe finds herself smack dab in the middle and in very real physical danger.

     McClintock unravels the mystery a clue at a time, effectively stringing the reader along with intermittent red herrings. Chloe’s involvement is believable, and Levesque’s reluctance to include her in his investigation is consistent with his role as Police Chief. Sometimes there seem to be too many characters and complications, though McClintock does a good job of tying them all in by the end of the story.

     No doubt this novel will appeal to fans of the crime/mystery genre.


Kristin Butcher, a former teacher, lives in Campbell River, B.C. and writes for children.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.