________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number 14 . . . . September 15, 1995

Mystery of the Gold Ring

James Heneghan.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic, 1995.
128pp, paper, $4.99.
ISBN 0-590-24623-2

Subject Heading:
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Ian McLaren


Max stared at her. So did Sadie. Clarice didn't usually share her investigations with outsiders. Sadie hoped Clarice hadn't succumbed to Max's oily charm.
"We saw a kid jump the fence and run into the Ariadne," whispered Clarice. "The only kids in the hotel are your bunch."
Max chuckled. "No way. A kid couldn't pull off a serious crime like that. And even if he could, I'm sure it isn't a member of the band." He raised his eyebrows at the three sleuths. "But what's it to you, anyway."
"We're detectives," said Clarice. "We solve crimes."

The Mystery of the Gold Ring is the fourth in the "O'Brien Detective Agency" series. Like its predecessors, it stars Clarice O'Brien as the hard-driving leader of the group (her code name is "Number One"), Sadie Stewart as the brains of the outfit, and Brick as the sleepy-eyed, quiet, but useful brawn. In this episode, the three sleuths (all around twelve or thirteen years of age) are on holiday in Greece with Sadie's parents. During their stay, a priceless ring is stolen from a local museum. The evidence seems to point to one of the kids from a Canadian school band who are also staying at the hotel. Of course, the three heroes are the only ones with the ability to solve this mystery.

If this sounds like a pre-teen Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery, well . . . it is. To a one-time Hardy Boys fan, the elements are eerily familiar. Unlikely scenarios (how often did your friend's parents take you with them to Greece?), inept police departments, and apparently supernatural forces at work make these stories go. Lest I sound too harsh, let me say that James Heneghan's intended audience will quite happily overlook some of the implausibilities, since they make the story more exciting.

Heneghan makes no bones about this being a Canadian story. Many references are made to sites in the Vancouver area (where Heneghan lives) and the main reason the children want to solve this case is to preserve the honour of Canadians everywhere. If you want your kids to read Canadian content, look no further. Heneghan also manages to weave a fair amount of Greek history, geography, and mythology into this novel. . . . Without realizing it, the reader could end up learning something.

The Mystery of the Gold Ring is a very readable, well-narrated pre-teen mystery. Though it has a certain stock quality, it's non-violent, interesting, and even educational.

Recommended, with reservations.

Ian McLaren is an elementary teacher living in Pincher Creek, Alberta.

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

Copyright © 1998 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