Monday, February 24, 2014

The Legend of Diamond Lil (J.J. Tully Mystery #2) by Doreen Cronin, Kevin Cornell

J.J. is a retired search and rescue dog who guards chickens. When a possum shows up, he fears for their lives but trusts his instincts. When the beautiful Samoyed dog, Diamond Lil, offers to partner with him to help protect the chicks, it isn't clear if J.J. needs help or just likes the good-looking dog. When things reach a climax, there's a twist to the mystery of the possum and Diamond Lil that the reader won't see coming. Don't peek! You read-the-last-page readers will spoil the surprise!

This story mimics the hard-boiled detective genre but with a bit of ye ole kid humor of pee, burps, and chick antics. I thought some of the transitions in the beginning were choppy. I didn't quite get it that the chicks were being silly with J.J and using a blindfold with rabbit pee. I had to reread that part. The plot picks up after a third of the way and it's smooth waters from there on out. Or swirling waters. Young readers will like the action once the story gets into the threat of a predator. The story reminded me of the Chet Gecko series by Bruce Hale but easier to read. This 123-page mystery is good for grade 3 with a feel-good ending.

The characters don't have much depth. I didn't really understand Vince's role with the others. He seems to be the villain or busybody and I think it would have helped to read book 1 to understand the relationship with J.J.'s crew. Readers can try and put together the clues to solve the mystery and while some are obvious others are not; unless readers are familiar with possum behavior. This book could be tied in with nonfiction books on rescue dogs, show dogs, and possums. While it was entertaining, it doesn't stand out in the ocean of juvenile mystery books.

3 Smileys

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