Meg and the Disappearing Diamonds

“Ma’am Carmody said soothingly, ‘Let’s not get excited. Someone has the jewels. She will put them back.’

Neighbor looked at neighbor. Not one person stepped forward. Meg gulped.

‘I feel like a thief,’ Kerry whispered.

‘Me too,’ Meg said. Meg loved a mystery. But now that she found herself in the middle of one, she could only stare at Mrs. Partlow’s worried face.”

For some reason I’ve been in the mood for vintage series books lately, and when I wanted a quick read last night I settled for Meg and the Disappearing Diamonds, first in the series by Holly Beth Walker.

Meg Duncan lives in a small Virginia town, and since her father is often in Washington D.C. for government business she regards the housekeeper and her husband as surrogate parents. She looks forward to spending the summer practicing ballet and spending time with her best friend Kerry Carmody, until an unsuccessful break-in at Mrs. Partlow’s puts everyone on edge. A garden party the next day, where Mrs. Partlow plans to show off the tempting diamonds, is ruined by rude Mrs. Glynn and her spoiled poodles. It becomes more disastrous, however, when the diamonds disappear. Meg and Kerry suspect Kerry’s small sticky-fingered cousin Cissie, who was found at the scene of the crime. They resolve to find and return the diamonds before the police get involved, but Meg’s resolve is torn when her beloved cat Thunder disappears as well. Is it Cissie again, or a more sinister hand?

Perhaps the shorter length played a factor, but the book felt much more juvenile than other series. Even the writing style is relatively simple. I would place Meg’s age at about eleven, as the girls treat Kerry’s nine-year-old brother Mike as a relative equal. I was shocked to see that the back page of the book advertised the Donna Parker series, which is decidedly malt-shop.

The southern setting is a nice touch, as most series seem to take place in the Northeast or Midwest, and the author does a nice job creating a cozy small-town feel. It’s different to have the boisterous family belonging to the best friend instead of the heroine. The pacing is slow up until the climax, however, and for me the solution of the mystery was painfully obvious early on. My other complaint is minor. Mrs. Glynn’s French poodles are named Enfant, Petite, and Jouet, but the author refers to them primarily by the English translations. Apparently she felt her audience was not capable of remembering foreign names.

I have the second book and will probably read it as some point to compare (at the very least it will be a quick), but I much prefer other Whitman mystery series like Trixie Belden or Robin Kane.

*UPDATE*

According to the Trixie Belden website, the one of the Whitman ghostwriters responsible for the Meg Mysteries, Gladys Baker Bond, also wrote volumes for The Tuckers. If she did this one it might explain why the intended audience seems so young. I also found that Polly Curren ghostwrote Meg and the Mystery in Williamsburg; her library collection actually has the outlines and drafts for the book.

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Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] suppose this is what I get for calling the first book in the series dull, because The Ghost of Hidden Springs and The Mystery of the Black-Magic Cave were certainly […]


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