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Eric Wilson.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 1990.
130pp., cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-00-223589-7. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11

Reviewed by David Jenkinson.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

November finds Liz Austen, sixteen, and her brother Tom, fourteen, flying to St. John's, Newfoundland, with their mother because of the terminal illness of the young sleuths' maternal grandmother. Family problems are quickly replaced by larger adventures, for, as Mrs. Austen correctly observes, "You kids attract mysteries like you're magnets." When Tom casually mentions the words "Ice Diamond" to his sister, they draw the aggressive attention of Tom's seatmate on the plane. The two words, part of a coded message intercepted by Liz and Tom's younger Newfoundland cousin Duncan, become the focal point of the book's mystery as the young Austens attempt to discover the words' hidden meaning.

The fourteenth novel featuring Tom and/or Liz Austen contains all the ingredients members of the Eric Wilson Mystery Club have come to expect. Settings are consistent with the adventure mystery genre and include the requisite number of mysterious abandoned buildings, dark tunnels and deserted graveyards. Characters appropriately remain types who, at the novel's conclusion, do not always turn out to be what readers initially thought them to be.

Wilson continues to sprinkle his text with elements of local colour as a way of underlining that his place settings are real. In addition to encountering historic sites in St. John's, readers meet Newfoundland expressions such as "some good" and "up-along" and observe a juvenile version of being "screeched in." Wilson devotees will recognize the central characters' passing references to settings and characters from earlier Liz and Tom mysteries.

A comment by Liz suggests that this travelling mystery series' next stop may be New Brunswick. A quick, undemanding read!

David Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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