Charlie's Keyby Rob Mills
When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John's, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet his nephew—not because of who Charlie is, but rather because of what Charlie has: the key.
That key will unlock a treasure Uncle Nick began searching for more than thirty years earlier. And he would have found it all those years ago if he hadn't been arrested and sent away for murder. But Charlie isn't convinced he should give up the key. He leads Uncle Nick on a wild chase through old St. John's, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. There, high above the rugged Atlantic, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Uncle Nick, the treasure, and a family history that will leave him with a new understanding of where he comes from and where he's going.
Thirteen-year-old Charlie inherits just one thing from his troubled dad: a key. What it's for might be revealed by his thuggish uncle, who's now relentlessly stalking him.
In this debut Canadian import, Charlie's father slips him a key just before dying. With only one other relative, Uncle Nick, whose long prison stint for two murders is just ending, he's sent to a brutal juvenile detention center while Child Services seeks a more permanent placement. Charlie, intrepid and amusing, escapes with the help of Frankie, a newly released teen inmate, and Clare, a girl who is addicted to "Oxys." Nick, with a badly scarred hand, which he uses to good effect to threaten people, weaves in and out of Charlie's first-person narrative as the boy evades his sinister presence as well as authorities who don't truly seem to have his best interests in mind. While foggy cliffs and colorful villages effectively evoke the exotic Newfoundland setting, it's the mystery that moves the tale forward. It is not only focused on the purpose of the key, but also on Charlie's need to discover his father's role in the murder of possibly pedophilic Brother of the Holy Order. The sexual abuse at an orphanage, briefly described, is based on actual events.
A fast-paced, often riveting mystery with a plausible, thrilling climax. (Mystery. 11-15)
Read an Excerpt
I feel his hand twitch and twitch again. I put both my hands around his. And then, just a tiny bit, it opens. Then a bit more, and I feel something drop out of it, small, hard, hot in my palm. A key. I can tell without even looking.
Meet the Author
Rob Mills has been an award-winning reporter, newspaper editor and writer in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario. Charlie's Key is his first published novel. He lives in Pererborough, Ontario with his wife and two daughters.
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