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Midnight at the Barclay Hotel

by Fleur Bradley

Publishers Weekly When 12-year-old JJ Jacobson’s CEO mom wins a weekend at the haunted Barclay Hotel in Aspen Springs, Colo., paranormal investigation enthusiast JJ convinces her to bring him along. The Jacobsons seemingly have nothing in common with the other guests: cowboy Buck Jones; Fiona Fleming, an actress and occasional medium; retired Detective Frank Walker; and children’s librarian Chelsea Griffin. But, save for Detective Walker, each of the guests has a Barclay-related secret—and, as they learn upon their arrival, all are suspects in the murder of Mr. Barclay. Detective Walker’s 11-year-old book-loving granddaughter, Penny, and lonely 12-year-old hotel resident Emma, who is prone to mysterious disappearances, team up with JJ to discover “who had motive, means, and opportunity,” while JJ simultaneously attempts to prove the existence of ghosts to skeptic Penny. Bonet’s black-and-white illustrations are appropriately mellow; all characters are portrayed as light-skinned except for Penny and her grandfather. Though readers already exposed to the genre may consider this well-trod ground, Bradley (the Double Vision series) offers a fast-paced, lightly spooky entrée to mystery fare. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Laurel Symonds, the Bent Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Hannah Whitty, Plum Pudding Illustration. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Five strangers (with secrets!) are invited to a historic (haunted) hotel—to solve a murder. The secluded Barclay Hotel, one of Colorado’s most haunted places, sends five invitations to a carefully selected guest list: a cowboy, a librarian, a CEO, an actor, and a detective. The CEO’s preteen son (ghost-hunting aficionado JJ, who hates reading) and the detective’s granddaughter (aspiring detective Penny, a bookworm) tag along and immediately connect with the hotel’s lonely resident kid, Emma, daughter of the head chef. Once the guests are assembled (and the driver has left, natch), the butler reveals that they’ve been gathered to solve a mystery—who killed Mr. Barclay?—and, with the exception of the detective, they are the suspects. The kids jump into action, interviewing suspects to tease out motive, means, and opportunity—and all of the adults have secrets. The mystery features some fun reversals, allowing just enough convolution for mystery novices (who will learn the terms “whodunit” and “red herring”); Agatha Christie references abound, and the hotel setting shines. The ghostly supernatural storyline is mild and unthreatening and not prominent enough for kids looking for a paranormal scary story. The murder mystery is gentled through temporal distance (the murder happened a week prior; there are no bodies or graphic moments). While the ending relies on a villain’s monologue, the happily-ever-after is an earned one. Aside from dark-skinned Penny and her grandfather, the other characters default to (and are illustrated as) white. A quirky, kid-friendly introduction to the murder mystery. (Mystery. 8-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Five strangers (with secrets!) are invited to a historic (haunted) hotelto solve a murder.The secluded Barclay Hotel, one of Colorados most haunted places, sends five invitations to a carefully selected guest list: a cowboy, a librarian, a CEO, an actor, and a detective. The CEOs preteen son (ghost-hunting aficionado JJ, who hates reading) and the detectives granddaughter (aspiring detective Penny, a bookworm) tag along and immediately connect with the hotels lonely resident kid, Emma, daughter of the head chef. Once the guests are assembled (and the driver has left, natch), the butler reveals that theyve been gathered to solve a mysterywho killed Mr. Barclay?and, with the exception of the detective, they are the suspects. The kids jump into action, interviewing suspects to tease out motive, means, and opportunityand all of the adults have secrets. The mystery features some fun reversals, allowing just enough convolution for mystery novices (who will learn the terms whodunit and red herring); Agatha Christie references abound, and the hotel setting shines. The ghostly supernatural storyline is mild and unthreatening and not prominent enough for kids looking for a paranormal scary story. The murder mystery is gentled through temporal distance (the murder happened a week prior; there are no bodies or graphic moments). While the ending relies on a villains monologue, the happily-ever-after is an earned one. Aside from dark-skinned Penny and her grandfather, the other characters default to (and are illustrated as) white.A quirky, kid-friendly introduction to the murder mystery. (Mystery. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 3–7—When unexpected invitations are received for an all-expenses-paid weekend at the newly renovated (yet rumored to be haunted) Barclay Hotel, no one thinks to question why. The five invited guests—a cowboy, a librarian, an actress, a CEO with 12-year-old son JJ, and a detective with 11-year-old granddaughter Penny—arrive and discover they are there to solve a murder. It turns out that most of them are suspects. JJ, a ghost-hunting enthusiast, and bookish Penny team up with Emma, a mysterious girl who lives at the hotel, to discover everyone's secrets and figure out the answer. Veteran narrator January LaVoy reads, and does a wonderful job adding life and sparkle to the audio. Characters are differentiated well, particularly JJ, who is convincingly read with a husky voice. As the kids follow the clues, there are various twists and turns to keep the listeners absorbed, and LaVoy's reading of the suspenseful parts leaves the listener breathless. The Barclay Hotel itself is described in such an atmospheric way that it is easy for listeners to picture the spooky setting. Penny and her grandfather are African American while the other characters appear to be white. VERDICT Puzzle buffs will enjoy this fast-paced supernatural mystery.—Julie Paladino, formerly with East Chapel Hill H.S., NC

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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