CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 6. . . .October 11, 2013
Caught in the Act. (Orca Currents).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
117 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0496-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0510-1 (hc.) ISBN 978-1-4598-0497-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0498-2 (epub).
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Jocelyn Reekie.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
“Hey, here’s Dillweed,” someone said, and I cringed.
This was Garrett’s favorite name for me. We hadn’t been on good terms since a group of us got in deep doo-doo last winter for snowballing cars from a bridge and causing a car accident. I knew he still held it against me that we had got nabbed. “Hey, Garrett,” I said, flicking him a wave.
“So your granny let you come out and play today, huh?” he said. His friend Matt, who used to be my friend, thought that was pretty funny and laughed way too loud.
“Just ignore the losers,” Cory said. “Hurry up and dump your backpack. It’s time.”
I dropped my bike, shrugged off my pack, unzipped it and dumped the contents onto the pile. Some of my friends clapped. My eyes searched the crowd for my friend Monica. But I knew I wouldn’t see her. There were only a couple of girls in the crowd, and they’d come with their boyfriends.
Monica wasn’t into stuff like this, and I couldn’t blame her ... But when it came to being around Monica, I was ever hopeful....
“Who brought the matches?” Cory said. At least five kids reached into their pockets and pulled out a pack, and everyone grinned.
“Okay, so this is it. The Great Paper Blaze and the start of summer vacation. Let’s party on this summer! On three,” Tanner said, then held up a can of lighter fluid and added a generous squirt to the fire. “One, two…”
So begins Dylan O’Connor’s fifteenth summer in Bridgewood, a fictional resort town that hums with tourists in summer and mostly lies dormant in winter. Life is never ‘dormant’ for Dylan though. Author Deb Loughead’s protagonist in Caught in the Act, her latest mystery in the “Orca Currents” series, is an active kid, year-round. Unfortunately, his actions often land him in trouble. Thus, he’s on fairly intimate terms with local police officer Nicole Vance who is also a close friend of his mother. That relationship ensures that nothing Dylan does remains secret for long, a fact that gets him into so much trouble that he and his friend Monica end up being nabbed as a thieves.
Caught in the Act is action-packed, with everything a mystery aimed for this age group needs. Intrigue, misdirection, a hint of romance, some not-so-bad bad guys, some truly bad bad guys, and an intelligent young detective who has not learned yet how not to roast his own goose, whether it’s fun, detecting or romance he’s pursuing. Work, something Dylan’s mother wants him to pursue but he is far less keen on, is a whole other story.
Along with a very likeable main character, Loughead’s small town and support characters come alive. In a small town, anonymity is difficult to achieve. The kind of cohesion that can bring an entire community together in times of trouble, or result in simple neighborly help, can also result in personal business not staying as personal as some would like. Employment can be hard to come by, and dependent on reputations made, or ruined, by a single act – a fact made clear in Dylan’s predicament when his new boss finds out what he’s been up to.
Loughead has also captured the essence of a nuclear family well. Because Dylan’s mom’s job as a bartender at Rocky’s Roadhouse means she works at night, it is up to Gran to keep a watchful eye on the not-so-typical teen, a task the feisty elder is very much up to in many ways, and in some ways not. The relationship between Dylan and his mother and his grandmother is close, but can be strained.
Caught in the Act is an enjoyable, fast-paced read with a good cast of characters, a plausible plot, realistic dialogue and language that is appropriate for the intended readers.
Jocelyn Reekie is a writer, editor and publisher in Campbell River, BC.
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