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Children's LiteratureThere has been a hole in the community ever since Mr. Healy was killed late one night on his own front porch. Thirteen-year-old Charlie and her seven-year-old brother, Jerry, miss him terribly. No one seems to know anything, and no one seems to want to ask any questions, until Jim returns. A boarder at the Healy house on the night of the murder, Jim is starting his own investigation. He enlists Charlie, and even Jerry, to help him. All of this makes Charlie very uncomfortable. She just wants to enjoy the summer with her best friend, Shannon, to hang out in her neighborhood, and to keep Jerry safe. Still, Charlie's deeply troubled by the silence she gets in response to those questions she does ask. Maybe Jim is right that there are people who know what happened. Maybe they do need to find out what happened to set it right. But Jim's apocalyptic talk of good and evil and the future scares Charlie. As tension rises and Jerry's part in the investigation deepens, Charlie finds that she is already too involved to back out and learns that the fallout from Jim's truth-seeking just may be more than anyone anticipated. Jane Leslie Conly's novel is taut and realistic. Charlie's growing concern and horror are evident with each page. There is remarkably little violence for a book that deals with drug-dealers and murderers, but there is an ominous tone throughout. Appropriately, this story does not have a happy ending, but it does have a hopeful one. 2005, Henry Holt, Ages 12 to 16.
—Heidi Hauser Green