________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012

cover

CleanUp. (Rapid Reads).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2012.
128 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0054-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0055-7 (pdf),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0056-4 (epub).

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.

   

excerpt:

I dropped my two trays of cleaning supplies and hurried through the mud room, which I doubt had ever seen any mud. I ran through the kitchen and up the back stairs to the second floor.

Richard Withers was in his early seventies. He had had a heart attack when he was sixty and had been careful ever since. He ate sensibly and exercised regularly, as was obvious from his lean build. But I knew about heart disease two of my uncles had died from it. So I expected to find that Mr. Withers had had a second, fatal, attack during the night. Poor man, dying all alone, I thought.

That's why I wasn't prepared for the scene that greeted me.

It was clear that Richard Withers had not died of a heart attack. Nor had he died alone. Not unless he had bludgeoned himself over the head with the foot-high brass angel that was lying in a pool of blood beside his motionless body.

 

Consuela (Connie) Suarez is working as a maid after losing her job as a legal secretary. When she arrives at Richard Wither's house one morning, she finds him dead and her co-worker, Maria, standing by the body. Maria says she did not kill Richard Withers and asks Connie to help her prove her innocence. After Maria is detained by the police, Connie begins to find out how many lies Maria had told her in the past. Maria had quit her maid's job a month before and was engaged to Richard Withers. His family is furious about this fact, especially when it is revealed that Richard had changed his will and left his estate to Maria instead of his son. As Connie looks more into Richard's murder, she finds herself in danger and must find out the truth before she is murdered.


     Cleanup is a good book for reluctant readers. Norah McClintock is a very accomplished author, and this is clearly shown by her ability to write such a good story in such a short space. As with any book for reluctant readers, Cleanup is short (less than 130 pages) and fast-paced. However, the plot is well-paced and steadily moves along. The events are presented in a linear fashion, with no flashbacks, and move logically from places to place and character to character, a style which works well for a shorter story. Because only a few scenes are high action, the story does not overwhelm the reader with action and events and does allow the reader to get to know the main characters a little.

      The characters are described well in a short space as the limited page count allows for very limited character development. It would be nice to know a bit more about the background of the narrator, including her age, but there are still a number of nice touches about the character of Connie. The fact that she was a lawyer in her home country and came from a wealthy family, but had to become a legal secretary when she moved, then a maid after being downsized adds a lot of interest to the character. Connie's allergies to scents add an extra dimension to her character, as well as being important to the plot. Maria is presented much more minimally in the beginning, but this is to be expected as part of the plot involves Connie's finding out more about Maria. The reader knows from very early on that Maria has told Connie many lies about herself, and while the lies are revealed, the truth is not given in most cases. This does make Maria an interesting, if somewhat mysterious character, but it would be nice to know a little more about her real history. The various Withers family members are presented in enough detail for the plot and to enable readers to visualize them. The other secondary characters, such as the police, are not given much description, but they still work well in a short story like Cleanup.

      Cleanup is a good book for reluctant readers. Norah McClintock is a very accomplished author, and this is clearly shown by her ability to write such a good story in such a short space. As with any book for reluctant readers, Cleanup is short (less than 130 pages) and fast-paced. However, the plot is well-paced and steadily moves along. The events are presented in a linear fashion, with no flashbacks, and move logically from places to place and character to character, a style which works well for a shorter story. Because only a few scenes are high action, the story does not overwhelm the reader with action and events and does allow the reader to get to know the main characters a little.

     Cleanup is written in the first person, which is always an interesting choice for a murder mystery. It can really draw a reader into the story, which is certainly the case for Cleanup. Connie is a good narrator, and part of the suspense comes from finding information out along with her. Getting the internal dialogue from Connie, but not the other characters, limits the amount the reader knows about the other characters, but this generally enhances the plot and adds to the atmosphere.

     Overall, Cleanup is an intriguing, well-written murder mystery by an accomplished author, and it will appeal to older teen and adult reluctant readers.

Recommended.

Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

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.
 

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