________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 34 . . . . May 4, 2012


Raw Deal. (A Midway Mystery).

Melanie Jackson.
Salmon Arm, BC: Midway Press/Playfort Publishing, 2011.
82 pp., trade pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-0-9813164-5-1.

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie.

**½ /4



We're on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Far below, Capilano River swirls and foams over the jagged canyon rocks. I step sideways to glance down. The bridge sways. My guts twist.

Ray steps sideways, too. In her white-knuckle grip, the gun follows me like a homing device.

"You're going to jump," she says. "If you don't, I'll shoot you."

She can't mean it, not with those picnickers back there, in the park. She can't take the chance they'll look up. She's bluffing. She has to be.

I think of that rushing current, those sharp, pointy rocks.

"Forget it," I tell her.

Ray shrugs, and fires.

Colin Wirt and his mother have just moved to the beautiful picturesque mountain-clad shore of North Vancouver where he must, yet again, start over at a brand new high school. When he is propositioned by the big-man-on-campus, Jace Turpin, heir to the Turpin's fast-food empire, to sub for him during his early morning opening shift at the local Turpin's, Colin finds it difficult to say no to an easy $250. If Jace can do it, how hard could it be?

      But before long, Colin finds out that easy money often comes at a big price! Soon after the arrival of the first customer, everything spins out of control. Colin is kidnapped and becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his kidnapper. Now all Colin needs to do is prove his innocence and get the admission that he needs to clear his name. But whom can Colin trust?

      Writing in first person narration, Melanie Jackson crafts this enthralling mystery novel clearly with her audience of reluctant readers in mind. Jackson writes in short, simple sentences, and uses action-based language, which is appropriate for her target audience. Any reluctant reader would be undaunted by the physical layout of the book: the font is big, and the page count is well under 100 pages. Although it is impressive that Midway Press has employed an original editorial process, using both a Senior Editor, and a local teenaged Junior Editor, somehow a number of copy-editing typos were not caught in the final draft. Consistently, the "fi" letter combination was replaced by a question mark; I found these typos to be distracting, and at times, confusing. Furthermore, at one point the supporting character, Jace, was accidentally referred to as "Jake."

      At every turn, Colin learns that people are not always as they seem, for better or for worse. For the most part, the plot is fast-paced and follows a linear progression. However, after reading the resolution of the mystery, I actually felt slightly misled. Given the information in the story, there would have been no way to infer the conclusion. On the positive side, this resulted in a very thrilling and suspenseful ending.

      Overall, Jackson writes a very entertaining and gripping mystery, one which is realistically set in the region of North Vancouver. This quick read is sure to please any adolescent reader with a taste for fast cars, guns, and double agents!


Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie is currently a Teacher-On-Call in Victoria, BC, while also pursuing her MA degree in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

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.