Tim and Jamie are staying with Tim's grandparents in a Norfolk village when an elderly recluse is found dead in the crypt of a disused chapel. An old legend surrounding the chapel says that when the bell rings once, someone will die. Tim and Jamie investigate. By the author of "Into the Dark".
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During a visit from London to his grandfather's vicarage in a Norfolk village, Tim and his friend Jamie, both 14, are among those who discover the body of wealthy old Mr. Jefford in the crypt of an abandoned church. The police are baffled by the crime, which features some apparent impossibilities (the keys are in the crypt, whose door is blocked from the inside by a huge stone, though the door has been locked from the outside). A legend about a devil that, long ago, emerged from the crypt to kill at the tolling of the church bell also complicates the villagers' responses to the event. A year later, the mystery still unsolved, the boys return for another visit. Offering to help the various suspects by shoveling the still-falling snow, they ferret out enough motives, clues, and suspicious behavior- -pieced together with their recollections of the fatal day and some extraordinarily skillful deduction--to keep readers guessing to the end. In a dramatic finale, the two confront the murderer who, in the classic tradition, listens avidly while Jamie puts the whole puzzle in order, deftly using every piece. Wilde (Into the Dark, 1990) fans his story's inherent suspense with transparent but effective devices--lowering weather, references to the supernatural, inexplicable sensations of fear, faces that suddenly go white, etc. His plotting is intricate but economical, with a good array of suspects. The boys are lightly but adequately sketched; their compassion for the murderer is a nice touch. Solid entertainment. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8-10-- This British mystery is unlikely to find an appreciative audience among American readers. A sophisticated vocabulary; a complicated, slow moving plot; and the frequent use of Briticisms make the text difficult. The most damaging flaw, however, is Wilde's vague depiction of his two main characters. Readers learn that Jamie and Tim attend school together and live in London and that they become involved in their investigations during a visit to Tim's grandparents, but beyond this little else is revealed about them. Minor characters are also sketchily drawn, though the boys' probing does lead to some interesting revelations about the suspects in the murder of old Mr. Jefford. Still, while the eventual solution of the mystery is clever and complex, the repetitive dialogue, minimal action, shallow characterization, and slow pacing rob this story of any real excitement or suspense. Wilde's writing is smooth and professional and his plot is carefully constructed, but most readers won't persevere long enough to discover and appreciate his talent. --Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Harpercollins Publisher, 1991. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 6740057