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Eric Wilson.
Toronto, ON: Collins, 1984.
97pp., paperbound boards, $12.95.
ISBN 0-00-222845-9. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14

Reviewed by Joan Weller.

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Ottawa is the setting for the latest Eric Wilson mystery starring the spunky Liz Austen as the intrepid sleuth. The rivetting opening sentence, ~They'd put me in a cell on death row," will capture whodunit fans. Ensuing events will hold young readers' interest until all the loose ends are rather too hastily tied up. "Death row" is really just part of the old, recycled St. Nicholas Street jail, now a youth hostel where Liz is staying during the finals of a national public-speaking contest. Liz's topic? Vampires, fortuitously.

At the hostel, our young heroine befriends Orli Yurko whose mother is a cook for the wealthy Romanian, Baron Zaba, at his spooky Ottawa estate. Saving the Baron's attractive fiancée from drowning introduces Liz as a house guest at his gloomy home, Blackwater.

Surrounded by a household straight out of a horror flick, Liz musters her courage to elude a vampire, investigate the secrets of the estate's cemetary and chapel crypt, and solve the mystery surrounding the Baron and his household. Although the book's minor characters are drawn quickly and depend largely on stereotypical characteristics and appearance, the main character remains feisty and liberated. Fast-moving events in a setting drawn with accuracy and currency (the prime minister, his wife, and Madame Sauvé appearing briefly) help to create a good mystery.

Joan Weller, Ottawa P.L., Ottawa, ON.
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