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James Lincoln Collier is the author of over 50 books for adults and children. He won a Newbery Honor for My Brother Sam Is Dead and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also well known for his writing for adults on jazz. He lives in New York City.
In this Depression-era tale set near St. Louis, Gene receives visits from some sort of specter, as if he is temporarily possessed by a presence that speaks to him in vague threats and riddles. When he learns that the death of his pal Sonny's father was preceded by a voice urging him to kill himself, Gene assumes that his specter is the same ominous being. This spirit urges him to solve a mystery many years old with little in the way of concrete clues. Gene gains the help of Sam, daughter of the local paper's editor, and the two find stories about the purchase of the old Toffey farm by oil speculator-con man, Ernest Gallen. Gene learns that the spirit of the con man wants revenge on the lynch mob that killed him as well as on Gene's grandfather, the judge who sent him to a low-security cell. The novel features mostly flat characterization and dialogue that subdue any real tension. Even the spookiest episode, in which the three kids explore the Toffey farmhouse and find a noose with a dressed skeleton on the floor, doesn't create an eerie atmosphere, and the story has several lapses in logic.-Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Posted October 27, 2008
Looking for a good mystery/ghost story? THE DREADFUL REVENGE OF ERNEST GALLEN will be a satisfying read. <BR/><BR/>Young Eugene "Gene" Richards feels a tightness in his chest. Then there is a strange sensation, like a motion wiggling in his center. What follows is the scariest thing - a voice begins to speak to Gene from somewhere inside. <BR/><BR/>Over the course of a few weeks, the strange feeling and the internal voice continue to visit Gene. The voice tells him a frightening tale. Gene learns that his beloved grandfather may have committed some unthinkable crime. According to the voice, back when Gene was very young, his grandfather and some other men in the small town of Magnolia got involved in a "get rich quick" scheme that ended in the lynching of a young man. It is beginning to appear that the voice haunting Gene's thoughts is the ghost of that young man looking for revenge. <BR/><BR/>At the same time Gene is wrestling with the mysterious voice and whether or not to involve his good friends, Sonny and Sam, Sonny's dad is killed in a freak accident, and Sam's dad is injured in an equally strange car accident. As the trio begins to dig into the mysteries of the past, they find numerous reasons to connect their fathers and Gene's grandfather to the vengeful ghost. <BR/><BR/>Although set in the years of the depression, readers will relate to the young detectives as they do their research at the local newspaper office and ask probing questions of reluctant relatives. Their persistence pays off as the mystery unfolds, and readers will keep turning the pages to learn the answers. THE DREADFUL REVENGE OF ERNEST GALLEN is an excellent choice for any middle grade collection.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2010
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