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Tremolo: Cry of the Loon

Tremolo: Cry of the Loon

5.0 1
by Aaron Lazar

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In this coming-of-age mystery set in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde witnesses a girl being chased through the foggy Maine woods. She's scared. She's hurt. And she disappears. Tremolo is a stirring and nostalgic trip back to summer, 1964, in which Gus faces his deepest fears while solving a baffling mystery.


In this coming-of-age mystery set in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde witnesses a girl being chased through the foggy Maine woods. She's scared. She's hurt. And she disappears. Tremolo is a stirring and nostalgic trip back to summer, 1964, in which Gus faces his deepest fears while solving a baffling mystery.

Product Details

Twilight Times Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

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Summer, 1964
North Belgrade, Maine

We're not gonna make it.

I looked nervously across the lake as the sunlight dimmed, then pulled hard on the oars in the direction of home. Cool feathers of fog slipped over the glassy water, whispering insidious moist threats.

Siegfried peeled off his sweatshirt and handed it to his sister, who shivered in the stern of the old wooden skiff. She tossed him an uneasy smile and put it on. Wispy vapor draped the boat, stroking my bare arms with cold fingers.

I took a deep breath and nodded to the ten-year-old twins with more confidence than I felt.

"Don't worry. We'll make it. We're almost to Moose Point."

Elsbeth drew the sweatshirt tightly around her. The sleeves were six inches too long. She slid them up to free her hands and peered at me through a mass of dark curls, moving closer to her brother for warmth.

"What's happening, Gus? Why is it so dark?"

I cast my eyes around the lake and then up to the sky. It was sunny when we set out for Horsehead Island. Now the thick fog bank obliterated the sun. I answered carefully, feeling responsible for the two since I was a full year older.

"It's just the fog. Don't worry. I'll row to shore and we'll wait it out, okay?"

Elsbeth nodded and yanked the hem of the sweatshirt over her bare legs. Her eyes darted with apprehension. I wrenched harder on the oars and broke into a cold sweat. They creaked in the damp silence. Siegfried turned and looked toward the disappearing shoreline, wrinkling his brow.

"You'll row to shore? What shore?"

He was right. The land had vanished. Returning his sombergaze, I swiveled the oars into the boat. Water dripped from the wooden paddles and pooled below. The fog enveloped us, filling the air with a ghostly gray mist. I shifted on the seat cushion that doubled as a life preserver. The cracks in the vinyl chafed my legs. A loon warbled in the distance, his cry distorted to a hysterical giggle. Blind, we sat in the rocking boat and waited.

"Well," I sighed, "we can sit here 'til it clears. We'll be safe. If we hear someone coming, we'll just make a bunch of noise."

Siegfried nodded, running his fingers through his long blond hair. It had grown over the tops of his ears since his last haircut. He looked more and more like the lead singer in Herman's Hermits. I was envious and begged my parents to let me skip my weekly trim at the barbershop. So far, they hadn't surrendered.

"Good idea. Gut," he said. Although the twins had been in the States for six years, they still harbored traces of a German accent. Siegfried, in particular, often combined phrases from both languages in the same sentence.

Elsbeth suddenly sat up and stared anxiously past my shoulder across the bow of the boat. She held up one hand.


The faint drone of a motorboat purred in the distance. Motionless, we strained to hear. It growled louder, heading in our direction. Siegfried's blue eyes widened in alarm.

"Move!" he shouted as he motioned toward the oars.

I picked them up and spun the boat around, hoping to row away from the oncoming craft. Pulling with all my strength, I struggled to move the boat across the dark water. The thrum of the motorboat escalated as it bore down on us. We shouted, trying to warn them.

"Watch out!" Our voices combined in a triad of shrieks as we screamed warnings into the air.

Shrill laughter reverberated behind the veil of fog as the boaters gunned the engine and splashed toward us. My heart sank to my bare feet as I realized they must be either drunk or insane. I dragged harder on the oars until my arms burned, propelling the skiff forward into the mist.

A dark shape emerged from the fog and almost scraped against our stern. The erratic driver barely avoided us as he accelerated back into the mist. His passengers shrieked with laughter. The wake from their boat rocked us violently, causing our craft to skitter forward.

Without warning, a great ripping crash knocked us from our seats.

Siegfried pointed at the bow.

"Gluck mal! (Look!)"

Water gushed through a ragged tear in the bottom of the boat. I swiveled around to inspect the damage. It was bad. Very bad. Peering over the bow, I looked down. A glistening turquoise reflection loomed large and sullen beneath the surface.

"Oh, crap," I yelled. "We hit Big Blue!"

Elsbeth and Siegfried both scuttled to the front of the boat and looked overboard at the monstrous boulder that glimmered beneath the surface. Water swirled around our ankles.

"Mein Gott!" screeched Elsbeth as her hands fluttered to her mouth. She stared at the water creeping toward her calves. Siegfried grabbed his sister's floating red cushion and forced her hands through the loops.

"Hold this, Elsbeth. Hold it tight."

The water bubbled higher and the boat listed to the bow, throwing us off balance. Siegfried snatched his green cushion and motioned for me to grab mine. It floated beside my legs. Temporarily frozen, I shook myself out of the stupor and followed his lead.

"Come on," I said with new purpose. "Let's get out and stand on Big Blue."

I set one foot on the slimy boulder. It was slick beneath my toes, but I found my balance, threw my other leg over the bow, and reached back to help Elsbeth out of the boat. Siegfried followed. Within seconds, the boat disappeared.

"My father's gonna kill me," I whispered. I'd cared for the boat for the past three summers with the understanding that I'd return it to my grandfather in good shape at the end of the season.

Elsbeth said, "It wasn't your fault the fog came in. He'll understand, won't he?"

I hoped she was right.

We shivered knee deep in the water of the Belgrade Lakes, clutching the cushions to our chests.

"Listen!" Siegfried said.

The voices of our parents echoed across the lake. Their words traveled in muted, garbled waves through the fog.

"Gus! Elsbeth! Siegfried! Where are you?"

We shouted back in vain, yelling until we were hoarse. Our cries were gobbled by the fog. Realizing that it was futile, we stopped. Even if we knew which way to go, it was too far to swim. Had we been in the boat, I might have tried to row toward the sound of their voices, but as it was, we were stuck.

"Shoot," I said, trying to hide the cold fear that rumbled in my stomach.

"Scheisse," muttered Siegfried, surprising us with the German profanity.

He stepped back quickly and looked down at his feet. Elsbeth yelped as something brushed against her legs. A two-foot lake turtle swam between them. She screeched and jumped into the water, arms churning as she splashed away from the snapper. Siegfried shouted to her, then dove for her red cushion bobbing in the opposite direction. Fearing we'd be separated in the fog, I yelled and plunged after them.

"Wait up! We've gotta stick together!"

Elsbeth and Siegfried joined hands as I swam toward them. We linked our arms together above the triangle of floating seat cushions and treaded water as the light dimmed and the fog thickened. I gripped their hands and waited for the air to clear.

* * * *


Elsbeth began to cry. The fog condensed and settled in for the night. It was thick, impenetrable. Our parents' voices continued to warble through the mist, becoming fainter as we drifted away from them.

The lake water was warmer than the air. We reconnected our grip beneath the floating cushions, looping them through the handles and grasping each other's prune-wrinkled fingers.

"Don't cry, Elsbeth," I pleaded. "It'll just make you tired. You've gotta save your strength."

I could barely see the outline of her head in the darkness. She sniffled and nodded. "Okay. I'll ... I'll try."

Siegfried used a firm voice as he appealed to her.

"Elsbeth Marggrander. You must be strong. Stay awake. As long as we are together, we will be okay, nicht wahr? (right?)"

"Ja," she mumbled as she pressed our hands beneath the water.

The minutes passed as we struggled to avoid sleep, singing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Please, Please Me," until our throats were sore. The camp waitresses in the little red cabin had blasted the songs the last few weeks. We knew them by heart.

The tunes billowed in the night air, punctuating our bizarre watery world with lost love and youthful yearning. My voice rasped as we sang, becoming weaker. I laid my head on the cushion. Exhaustion took hold as my eyes grew heavy and my lips slurred the words. Suddenly, the faint sound of splashing washed in syncopated rhythm with our voices. Reluctantly, I raised my head from the cushion. The soft sound of water lapped the shore nearby. I squeezed the twins' hands.

"Which way is it?" Siegfried whispered.

I could barely make out Elsbeth's hand as she pointed. "It's over there. That way. Come on. Auf geht's. (Let's go)"

We paddled toward the welcome sound. Within minutes, our feet touched soft sandy bottom. Walking quickly toward the dark shore, we climbed up on a granite boulder that stretched into the water under a canopy of white birches.

"Where are the cabins?" Elsbeth asked as we huddled together.

I strained to look into the pitch-black night. No lights shone through the fog. No aromas of grilling burgers wafted on the air. And no sounds of scampering children met our ears. Aside from the chorus of crickets and peepers, it was dead quiet. I sighed, realizing we must be far from civilization.

"We're probably on the west end. We'll have to walk a ways to find someone. Come on. We'd better get going."

Visibility was a mere three feet. We picked our way carefully along the narrow shore trail made by campers and hikers. Occasionally, we stepped over fallen trees blocking the way. When we'd walked in the fog for about twenty minutes, we stopped to catch our breath. Shivering, we stood barefoot on the pine needles that softened the trail.

A yellow orb glimmered on the trail ahead. Someone skittered toward us, running away from the flashlight. A wisp of a girl with long, blond hair came into view.

The light bobbed in the fog as its owner approached.

"Sharon!" a man's voice roared. "Sharon, where are you?"

The girl stopped as she nearly collided with us. Staring with huge, frightened eyes, she raised her hand to cover a trickle of blood that ran from the corner of her mouth. Her slight form was silhouetted by the eerie glow of the light. She breathed hard, with palpable fear that caused goose bumps to rise on my arms. Before we could speak, she panicked and hopped off the trail into the woods.

A flicker of fear passed through me. Siegfried sensed the danger and pulled us both into the woods just before the man lurched past. The stench of whisky and sweat filled the air. He crashed along, treading heavily on the trail as he bellowed Sharon's name.

"Sharon! God damn it, girl. Where are you?"

Sharon had disappeared. After a few moments of tense silence, we chanced it and returned to the trail, racing away from the drunk. The office of The Willows campgrounds came into view. A pale orange light glowed above the door of the camp store, enveloped in a festival of fluttering moths. We opened the screen door and fell into the dry warmth. The woman behind the counter nearly dropped the half-gallon of milk she was ringing up for the customer at the cash register.

"Well, my heavens! What have we here?" she asked.

The three of us babbled about the fog and the capsized boat and were soon surrounded by caring adults who wrapped us in blankets. Our parents were called. We told the storekeeper about the girl and the man who'd been chasing her. A deputy arrived. He drove us through the dense fog to Loon Harbor, my grandparents' rustic fishing camp, where our parents descended on us with concern and hot chocolate.

When I finally crawled under the woolen blankets in my small bedroom over the lake, Sharon's face floated before me, sending shivers down my back. I had shared her fear as we'd trembled side by side in the dark woods. She was terrified. And hurt. The lout had hit her. I knew it.

I prayed she escaped his grasp. After an hour of tossing and turning, I drifted off into fitful dreams.

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Tremolo: Cry of the Loon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿In this coming-of-age mystery set in the Belgrade Lakes region of Main, young Gus LeGarde witnesses a girl being chased through the foggy Maine woods. She¿s scared. She¿s hurt. And she disappears. ¿ This story brought back happy memories of childhood fun. Gus is a typical preteen, but also selfless and brave. As a prequel to the LeGarde Mysteries it sets the scene for the future, and Gus¿s foray into the world of solving mysteries. It was a fun and yet scary romp back to a time many will relate to. It took me back to my favorite series, the Nancy Drew mysteries and a time in life that was both exciting and world changing. This is a nostalgic and entertaining read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the third book in the Gus LeGarde series of mystery novels. Unlike the other books, it takes place when Gus was a boy of eleven and he and the twins, Elsbeth and Siegfried Marggrander, vacation at a Maine resort run by Gus¿s grandparents. Lazar has drawn heavily on this material in his other books and in this one he proves what a rich source it is. As Gus and the twins return home from a boating accident, they encounter a young girl, bleeding from a blow to her mouth, and pursued by a drunken man whom they assume to be her father. The search for the missing girl, Sharon Adamski, runs through the story, in some ways its dominant thread but not the one that most occupies the reader. The real attraction of the book is ¿ and this quality it shares with the other Gus LeGarde books ¿ the charm of the author and the opportunity for the reader to share in a gracious life built on warm relations with family and friends. The joys of the table and the love of music and the appreciation of the quiet joys of reading embrace an ideal but not impossible world. Lazar has added other strains to this medley. An occupant of one cabin is the mysterious Miss Jones, seeking a quiet retreat where she can mourn the death of her son. She and young Gus become friends and it is he who rescues her cat Ivanhoe, frightened by a burglar. It is no accident that the villains in Lazar¿s books are villains without redemption. Like a figure from Elizabethan drama or opera they will not only stop at nothing, they will joyfully add gratuitous evil deeds beyond what any reader could expect. It is as if the existence of unqualified malevolence in others is the cost of Gus¿s idyllic world, a kind of restoration of balances. Brigit Marggrander, mother of the twins, was the victim of the camps in Germany during World War II. This is another strong statement of the evil that exists in the outer world beyond the charmed circle of the LeGarde family and friends. Lazar cleverly involves the story with To Kill a Mockingbird, a movie that Gus sees with his parents and which they all find overwhelming. It is a brilliant choice for it is a parallel with the LeGarde circle and the circumstances of Tremolo. This ¿ if the world is at all just ¿ should be the break-through book for Aaron Paul Lazar. He has served his apprenticeship with two excellent works, but Tremolo reaches far beyond these and is a monument to the enduring values of love, integrity and bravery. Experimental writing is fun but charm and honesty and high ideals have staying power. Tremolo has all the signs of persistent endurance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Open the pages of this great story and you'll find yourself stepping back in time to the childhood of the hero of the LeGarde mysteries by the very talented author Aaron Pau Lazar. The setting has all the earmarks of being real and pulls the reader nostalgically back to their own childhood with its warmth and laughter. Three children, Gustave, Seigfried, and Elsbeth are set to enjoy another summer on the lake, but a series of events sends them off in a different direction, tinging the peaceful lakeside atmosphere with fear and mystery. A missing girl, a mysterious visitor the children are forbidden to bother, the attempted murder of Gustave and other events keep this story moving with a sense of tension that will have any reader looking over their shoulder at strange sounds after dark. Join Gustave and his friends in their attempts to find the missing girl, and find where their conviction they've found her leads. A tightly-written tale with loads of action and adventure to keep you reading by a superb story-teller whose characters live and breathe. A fun read with plenty of mystery and intrigue as seen through the eyes of a boy well on his way to becoming a man. If you are familiar with the adult LeGarde, you will recognize the seeds of his personality as sown here. Enjoy. I certainly did and I highly recommend this and all other books by Aaron Paul Lazar to any reader.
Jani417 More than 1 year ago
For readers who remember 1964, this will be a delightfully evocative sentimental journey back to a simpler time.  Younger readers will get an authentic, up close revelation of what elders refer to as “The good old days.”  Young Gus LeGarde, future music professor and hero of Aaron Paul Lazar’s popular mystery series, is eleven years old in 1964, spending an unexpectedly adventurous summer at his grandparents’ resort camp. At a time when society’s innocence is ending, Gus and his friends experience danger and revelations about life that will lead to maturity. Young Gus accompanies his parents to see the movie “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and is profoundly affected by the injustice portrayed.  The events of the summer reflect the lessons in the movie.  Gus’ own near drowning experience brings to mind the memorable line from that movie: “Let the dead bury the dead.” Lazar’s unique ability to involve the reader in the action of the story will deliver charming childhood memories for older readers.  Descriptions of the simple pleasures of youth in the sixties produce sighs of nostalgia.  This flashback to Gus’ childhood helps readers better understand how the characters became who they are as adults.  All readers will enjoy investigating events, untangling clues and solving the mystery.  
bucmjt More than 1 year ago
Tremolo:  Cry of the Loon by Aaron Paul Lazar is simply genius!  Usually I wait a bit after finishing a book to formulate ideas before writing a review, but Tremolo took me away..and I may not come back any time soon.  The third book in the LeGarde mystery series, this book actually takes a look back at the characters with a more in depth view of events that were referenced in the previous books.  I was enthralled with the details, as always. Lazar never lets us get lost in surroundings or events by painting perfect pictures of places and events.  This particular story is tragic in so many ways, yet uplifting and full of promise for the future of the characters.  These events have shaped the characters into the adults that they become.  Perfectly planned, perfectly written.  I thought chapter 47 was going to end me, but I finished the book with a smile.  This is absolutely a MUST read, just remember to bring tissues!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in 1964, in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, Aaron Paul Lazar¿s novel ¿Tremolo, Cry of the Loon¿ presented one mystery after another begging to be solved and kept me turning pages to the very end to see who the guilty person or persons were. At the tender age of eleven, Gus LeGarde has a lot to deal with. First, when Gus and his friends, Elsbeth and Siegfried, wreck their small boat, they manage to swim to shore, but as they make their way through the trees to Gus¿s grandparents¿ fishing camp where Gus and his family are spending the summer, they almost collide with a young girl. She¿s bleeding and frightened and running from a drunken man. Who is the girl the man calls Sharon? Why is he after her? Gus worries about Sharon and wants to help her, so he tells the authorities, but they give little credit to the young boy. Second, who is the mysterious woman staying in Cabin Fifteen? Everyone is hush, hush about her, and all Gus knows is that she is old, has a cat, and recently lost a family member. She also has ¿guardians¿ who live in the cabin next to her, which means she¿s probably someone important. Third, while authorities search for Sharon, valuable religious artifacts are stolen: a bell cast by Paul Revere and a rare marble statue of the Virgin Mary, along with other priceless objects. Is there a connection between Sharon¿s disappearance and the theft of the artifacts? When Gus and his friends get too close to the truth, their lives become endangered. Will they rescue the missing girl, or will their fate be the same as hers, whatever that might be? If you¿re a child of the ¿60s, you¿ll remember the thirty-three rpm records, the movie ¿To Kill a Mockingbird,¿ the Beatles, and five-cent sodas. If you¿re not a child of the ¿60s, you¿ll enjoy the twists and turns and surprises in this breathtaking mystery. Beautiful imagery and touches of nostalgia make this a must read for all ages. You¿ll be glad you read it.