Gr 5-8-Australian author Emily Rodda, well known for her fantasy titles (Deltora Quest, Fairy Realm), gives contemporary mystery a go with the second title (Scholastic) in the Raven Hill Mysteries series. A group of teens in Australia do part-time work after school. While his friends Liz, Sunny, Elmo, Richelle, and Nick alternate in coping with the babysitting gig from hell, Tom takes the job no one else wanted-cleaning out a rundown magic shop for the somewhat creepy magician and ventriloquist Sid Foy. As Tom gets closer to discovering Sid's magic secrets, The Gripper, a nasty mugger who chokes his victims, has been holding the town suspended in fear. The plot is lightweight and quite predictable, but listeners will be swept along by the quick pacing and action. The characters, although thinly drawn, are interesting and believable. Narrator Rebecca Macauley does a fine job with the cast of characters, giving each a distinctive voice and manner of speaking: Tom is very down-to-earth, and Sid and his ventriloquist's dummy, Jacko, are especially engaging. Some unfamiliar Australian vocabulary is easily discerned in context. This mystery will be popular with upper elementary and middle school students.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.