Death in Kingsport

Overview

Kingsport, a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario, is struggling through the fall and winter of 1941 in the aftermath of the Great Depression. For fifteen-year-old Neil, life is simple and routine, until his favorite uncle, Chester, suddenly dies, and he is engulfed by an aching loneliness. At his uncle’s cremation aboard a freighter in the harbor, Neil has a strange sense of foreboding as he inadvertently hears a thumping sound inside the coffin. Could Uncle Chester be ...
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Overview

Kingsport, a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario, is struggling through the fall and winter of 1941 in the aftermath of the Great Depression. For fifteen-year-old Neil, life is simple and routine, until his favorite uncle, Chester, suddenly dies, and he is engulfed by an aching loneliness. At his uncle’s cremation aboard a freighter in the harbor, Neil has a strange sense of foreboding as he inadvertently hears a thumping sound inside the coffin. Could Uncle Chester be alive?

And so begins a chain of events that take the reader along in Neil’s quest to get to the bottom of his uncle’s death. When a disembodied voice in an old stable reveals that Chester’s passing is not the only mysterious death in town, Neil, along with his quirky sidekick, Graham, is catapulted to action. Meet Crescent, who captures Neil’s heart and provides vital clues, the suspicious Doc Savage and his questionable experiments, and the steadfast Miss Trimble, whose knowledge of the town’s inhabitants goes back years.

From strange happenings in the Amazon jungle to a near-death experience to getting lost on the ice when a storm erupts, Curtis Parkinson’s Death in Kingsport is a fast-paced murder mystery in a town where nothing is as it seems.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Domenic’s War:

“[The protagonists] stories … are deftly placed within the context of the Monte Cassino campaign and will give readers a poignant look at the ways in which the war affected average citizens.”
School Library Journal

“…a heartwarming, uplifting … fine book … a story of selfless generosity, friendship, and heroism.”
VOYA

Praise for Sea Chase:

“…Fast-paced action and page-turning suspense.”
School Library Journal

Children's Literature
This book does a great job of capturing the post-Great Depression era. The primary focus is local. Effects of the Depression are everywhere, as are signs of recovery. National and international politics are distant events that help capture the flavor of the times. There is discussion of the impact of World War II and the modernization of the area. The main character, Neil, is a likeable teenager who willingly sets out on a hero’s journey with the help of his intellectual friend, Graham. They set out to investigate the suspicious death of Neil’s uncle. Because Neil is an “everyman,” the normal teen angst is not present. In fact, such angst would be inappropriate for the era. Rather, the book focuses on resolving the plot issues. The plot was well-paced and engaging with an interesting secondary plot and a romantic-without-a-chance-to-get-mushy-interest. Readers will find this to be an enjoyable book to read even if they are outside of the target age group. Reviewer: Mary Ashcliffe
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8
Neil's life in a small Canadian town during World War II is unremarkable until his favorite uncle dies. During the cremation, the 15-year-old hears thumping noises coming from the coffin. He attempts to alert his parents to no avail. Later, Neil ponders the mystery aloud. A disembodied voice demands an explanation of what the boy thought he heard, and it will not answer questions in return. When the voice informs Neil that his uncle's death is not the only mysterious one in the town, the teen decides to investigate whether the man really died of a heart attack. He draws upon the assistance of his friend Graham; the sister of one of the other deceased; and that woman's daughter, Crescent. There are only a few details that point to the era, including the investigative techniques and slang ("jeepers"); however, Parkinson adeptly incorporates tidbits of information regarding worldwide funeral customs and Canadian history. Some spots are long on talk and short on action, particularly a skating scene involving Neil and Crescent. While the cause of the recent deaths is ultimately not a surprise, the novel's relatively quick pace should sustain interest. Kingsport will appeal to mystery fans who don't relish a steady stream of gore and violence.
—Jennifer SchultzCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887768279
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 8/14/2007
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.11 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Curtis Parkinson grew up in Kingston, Ontario. He graduated from Queen’s University and worked as a chemical engineer for many years. Then he moved to the Caribbean to live on a sailboat and write. He has since published three picture books and several short stories. Storm-Blast, his first novel, was set in the Caribbean Sea that he has learned both to love and respect. Both Storm-Blast and his second novel, Sea Chase, have been nominated for Red Cedar Awards. His most recent novel, Domenic’s War, has been nominated for a Silver Birch Award. Curtis Parkinson now lives in Ontario, where he lives with his wife and continues to write.
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