The Girl from Felony Bay

The Girl from Felony Bay

5.0 3
by J. E. Thompson

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The last year has been rougher than sandpaper for Abbey Force and her dad. He’s in a coma after his accident a year back, wherein he was framed for a terrible crime he didn’t commit. And their home, Reward Plantation, an idyllic spot on the eastern coast of South Carolina, had to be sold to pay off his debt to society. Abbey is stuck living with her

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The last year has been rougher than sandpaper for Abbey Force and her dad. He’s in a coma after his accident a year back, wherein he was framed for a terrible crime he didn’t commit. And their home, Reward Plantation, an idyllic spot on the eastern coast of South Carolina, had to be sold to pay off his debt to society. Abbey is stuck living with her uncle Charlie, who, even in the few hours a day when he’s sober, ain’t exactly your ideal parental role model.

But it turns out the new family that moved into Abbey’s old house has a daughter named Bee. And she’s just as curious about all the No Trespassing signs and holes being dug out by Felony Bay, in the corner of what used to be Abbey’s home. It appears someone’s been poking around a mystery that dates all the way back to the Civil War—and it just might be the same someone who framed Abbey’s dad.

Fresh, funny, and heartwarming, Girl from Felony Bay is the perfect book for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy and Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Twelve-year-old Abbey Force is an inquisitive middle grader who is determined to prove that her father is not a jewel thief. In a coma from an accident, he cannot defend himself from the charges. The family has lost Reward Plantation because of these charges, and Abbey has been placed with relatives who do not have her best interest at heart. She and her friend Bee, whose father now owns the plantation, try to solve the mystery of the theft and exonerate Abbey's father. Abbey is the right person for the job; her father told her before the accident that she was "a Force to be reckoned with." (The pun did not escape her attention.) Thompson sets the story deep in the South Carolina low country, on a plantation near Charleston. The setting descriptions are quite authentic, due to the author's own experience, and the coastal region is seamlessly integrated into the story. The first-person narrative gives a sense of immediacy to Abbey's story of history, local color, and intrigue. Dialogue moves the story along well and provides excellent characterization as the adventure unfolds. The mystery is well-developed as the girls continue on their quest. The story matter-of-factly takes on race relations; Bee's ancestors were slaves. This fact, however, does not affect the girls' friendship. The novel is an intriguing read. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Spirited Abbey Force, 12, is the only child of the former owner of Reward Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina. After a curious accident 18 months before, Abbey's father was found in a coma, surrounded by stolen jewels. Now Abbey lives with her cruel uncle and is determined to prove that her father is not a thief. Help arrives in the form of the daughter of the new plantation owner, Bee Force. The plot is clever, with clues dropped in each chapter and a surprising betrayal at the end. Suspense builds steadily, fueled by buried treasure, villains, and old-fashioned sleuthing. Thompson writes with plenty of dialogue, and the action is nonstop, but there is attention to detail as well. The landscape of Felony Bay-complete with alligators, mosquitoes, and a derelict cabin-creates a setting central to the story. With mixed success, Thompson takes Southern gothic tropes and incorporates them into a fast-paced mystery with subplots that tackle tough issues. Abbey is sensitive to Reward Plantation's slaveholding history. She is aware that her friend Bee, who is African American and shares her last name, is descended from people who were once slaves there. The story is a little heavy-handed, but tenacious Abbey makes it appealing to readers.—Martha Baden, Prescott Public Library, AZ
Publishers Weekly
Thompson's children's book debut offers mystery and adventure, while simultaneously exploring the far reach of history, justice, race, and family. Narrator Abbey Force begins the summer before seventh grade on Leadenwah Island, living with her conniving uncle and aunt, working on the horse farm her family used to own, and visiting her comatose father in a Charleston hospital. Determined to clear him of charges of malpractice and theft, Abbey finds an unexpected ally in Bee Force, the daughter of Reward Plantation's new owner and a descendant of slaves Abbey's family once owned. "Oh my gosh.... I'm sorry," Abbey says at their initial meeting, to which Bee responds, "It was a long time ago.... Had nothing to do with the two of us." Upon learning that her father had planned to deed Felony Bay to other descendants of Force slaves, Abbey discovers a motive for why someone might have framed him. The girls make clever sleuths, well-drawn supporting characters offer both farce and intrigue, and the snake- and alligator-infested swamps provide sultry local flavor in this ethically nuanced and suspenseful whodunit. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (May)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A character in itself, the South Carolina setting is fully realized with the danger and beauty of its swampy backwoods a factor in every chapter. Future fans of Grisham will find this immensely satisfying, as will readers who were enchanted by Turnage’s Three Times Lucky.”
“The story never forgets that at its center is a little girl who has lost everything and is more determined than even Nancy Drew.”
Katie Crouch
“The Girl from Felony Bay is a lovely story. J.E. Thompson has created a wonderful, honest character with a pitch-perfect young girl’s voice. Abbey Force’s tale will draw any reader in as she unravels long-buried mysteries and struggles to come to terms with the South’s dark past.”
Bernard Cornwell
“I was enthralled by this tale. It’s lyrical, touching, and beautifully written. A great debut.”
Kirkus Reviews
A tale bursting with intrigue and adventure finds its setting deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Twelve-year-old Abbey Force has had a rough time of things lately. Her beloved father has suffered an accident and now lies in the hospital in a coma. Meanwhile, he has been accused of stealing from a client named Miss Lydia Jenkins, and his law firm, in an attempt to salvage its reputation, has sold the Force family home, Reward Plantation, in order to repay her. Abbey is forced to go and live with her good-for-nothing Uncle Charlie and his wife, Ruth. Her luck begins to change when the new owners, also named Force, well-to-do descendants of the slaves who once lived at Reward, take up residence at the plantation. She and new best friend and neighbor Bee Force stumble upon a mystery--someone is digging holes at Felony Bay, perhaps in search of buried treasure. Soon, they are neck deep in a dangerous mess involving Abbey's father's so-called crime, her Uncle Charlie, Miss Jenkins' riches and possibly the town sheriff. A predictable outcome, lengthy final explanations seeking to tie up loose ends and one too many subplots weigh this one down. Bee and Abbey are amiable protagonists, though, and their spunk and perseverance, combined with the realistic and richly developed setting, deliver considerable appeal. A successful turn by a promising new author. (Mystery. 9-12)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Felony Bay Mysteries , #1
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Sales rank:
File size:
747 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

J. E. Thompson is the author of The Girl from Felony Bay along with a number of books for adults. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina, not too far from the bays and plantations that inspire the Felony Bay Mysteries.

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The Girl from Felony Bay 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book in the universe
HarleyLBennett More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read for middle grade readers. Parents will like it , also. This is a mystery with a lot of suspense that will keep you reading. I could not put it down.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I thought the book wasn't going to be that good than i started into it and LOVED it it was suspenseful i did not want to put the book down.