________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 12 . . . .February 8, 2008


The Law of Three. (A Sarah Martin Mystery).

Caroline Rennie Pattison.
Toronto, ON: Boardwalk Books/Dundurn Press, 2007.
228 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-733-4.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Ruth Latta.

*** /4



"Garnet's not the only one to look out for. Stay away from Byron, too. It's not just for your safety. Do you want people to start thinking you like the guy? You're new around here; you don't want people to start thinking you're associating with the Hoppers."


So advises one of Sarah's school friends in Caroline Rennie Pattison's new Sarah Martin mystery, The Law of Three. Sarah's father, an Ontario Provincial Police detective, has moved his family from Mississauga to his new posting in Ontario's Muskoka District, a popular and historic resort area celebrated in the paintings of Tom Thomson.

     Like every teenager, Sarah wants to fit in with other young people. She soon finds out that two students, the Goth-garbed Garnet Hopper and her brainy brother Byron, are pariahs. Rumour has it that their family was formerly Mafia, relocated as part of a witness protection program. The stories go further; the Hoppers are alleged to be devil-worshippers. Worse, Garnet is said to be implicated in the drowning death of a local teenager named Will Tremball whose brother Nathan is bent on revenge.

      Sarah reads up on this death which occurred before her family moved to the area. The circumstances surrounding the drowning are one of two mysteries in the novel. The other Hopper family secret, that they are pagans, or Wiccans, is spoiled for the reader by being revealed in the cover blurb.

      Author Pattison does a creditable job depicting the cliquish gossipiness of a small closed society, in this case, a small town high school. Sarah finds it impossible to take her friends' advice to avoid the Hoppers, though, because her geography teacher assigns her to work on a joint project with Byron. As she gets to know the boy better, Sarah comes to respect him, and her curiosity about his family secrets leads her to observe and investigate the drowning. Eventually, she elicits from him the truth about what happened that fateful day in the middle of Lake Muskoka.

      In The Whole, Entire, Complete Truth, Sarah put a couple of huge and alarming discoveries on hold while she went about her teenage social activities, but she has overcome this tendency in The Law of Three. By making the boating incident key to the plot, the author is using the Muskoka setting to advantage.

      The title, The Law of Three, also known as the "law of return," refers to the Wiccan belief that any energy that a person sends out returns threefold to that individual. In other words, what goes around comes around, multiplied by three. Many people who are not Wiccans believe that bad events, such as deaths, come in threes. Sara sees the "law of return" in operation at the end of the novel. In return for coming clean about past events, the Hopper children are rehabilitated in the eyes of their peers.


Ruth Latta's fourth mystery novel for grownups, Memories Stick, was released by Baico Publishing in 2007. She hopes to have a non-category, mid-list novel, An Amethyst Remembrance, published in 2008.

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

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