________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 1. . . .September 7, 2012


Close to the Heel. (Seven The Series).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
257 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.). For pricing information about digital options, including multi-user ebook subscriptions, email digital@orcabook.com
ISBN 978-1-5546-9950-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-5546-9951-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-5546-9952-0 (epub).
Seven (the series) Bundle. ISBN 978-1-4598-0270-4. $59.95.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Kay Weisman.

*** ½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.



I'm going to die. It's as simple as that.

The thought makes my heart feel hollow, but what can I do?

I drag one foot up out of the snow. Snow! It's only October. I will my foot to move forward and watch it disappear in the whiteness. I pray that it will find firm footing and not be a bottomless crevice.


I know why I'm here and I know what I'm supposed to do here. I'm supposed to disappear. I'm supposed to vanish without a trace, leaving anyone who knows me to shake their head and say, "He did it again. Rennie's been a screwup ever since, well, ever since forever, so it's no surprise that he screwed up again. What do you expect from a kid like that?"

Except that that's not what happened.

I didn't screw up this time. No, for once it was someone else. Someone who wants me out of the way.


I'm not taking the fall for this. I am not going gentle into this miserable night (another nod to Mr. Banks and his second idol, Dylan Thomas). Not me. Not Rennie Charbonneau.

No, I want to get even.

I want revenge.


Before 92-year-old David McLean passes away, he creates a DVD and letters for each of his seven grandsons, sending each boy on a journey to fulfill a mission. Orca's "Seven The Series" comprises seven volumes, all by different authors, each recounting the adventures of one grandson.

     Seventeen-year-old reformed screw up Rennie has only met his grandfather once, the time Rennie ran away from home in the months following his mother's accidental death. McLean's task for Rennie is to travel to Iceland to bury a personal journal in memory of the man and woman who saved McLean's life after a World War II plane crash. Rennie is excited to be travelling, but his assigned guide, Einar Magnusson, and his daughter, Bryna, seem to be caught up in a drama of their own. Bryna's mother Gudrun, an investigative reporter, died recently under mysterious circumstances, and Bryna's elderly grandfather, Sigurdur (David's war time rescuer) seems eager to unburden himself of a secret on the condition that Rennie not share the information with Einar or Bryna. Rennie's investigation into Gudrun's death and Sigurdur's secret brings him close to the truth, but it also results in his being knocked out, unceremoniously dumped in the Icelandic interior, and left to die (as excerpted above).

      The author of numerous crime novels for young adults (including Something to Prove, 2010), McClintock's style is ideal for this series. Her characters are well-developed, and secrets are revealed only gradually, leaving the murderer's identity in doubt until the final pages. She also includes much local colour (especially with regard to the Icelandic family naming system) and lightens the story with a sense of humour (several locals insist on labelling Rennie "American" and Rennie never misses an opportunity to correct this misunderstanding). This title stands alone, but the intriguing series' premise and the sense of mystery and adventure should prompt middle grade readers to ask for more. Other authors in this series include Eric Walters, John Wilson, Ted Staunton, Richard Scrimger, Sigmund Brouwer, and Shane Peacock.

Highly Recommended.

Kay Weisman, a long time librarian and reviewer, recently completed her Master of Arts in Children's Literature from the University of British Columbia.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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