Who killed Henry Koppel? That’s the mystery Olivene Love, 13, finds herself drawn into after her family arrives in Binder, a small Arkansas town, one summer evening in 1957.
Olivene’s father is an itinerant preacher. The Love family – mother, father, Ollie (as she’s called) and four younger sisters – travel from town to town preaching the gospel for a few consecutive evenings before they load up and head to the next community.
In Binder, Ollie meets a boy her age named Jimmy Koppel, whose forlorn face instantly telegraphs that he’s in deep trouble. And he is. Jimmy’s beloved mother, Virginia, is in jail, having confessed to the murder of Jimmy’s no-account father, a mean, abusive drunk. Though Jimmy is sure his mother is innocent, he doesn’t know how to help exonerate her. “You got a phone book?” he asks Ollie. “That’d be your list of suspects.” And with Virginia’s confession in hand, the good ole boy sheriff, has no motivation to investigate.
Ollie, a sincere girl whose faith is sure but quiet, cannot abide the injustice, so she gets to work on finding the real murderer fast, since the Loves have just a few days before they pull up stakes. The clues she uncovers keep the plot clipping along and keep the Loves in Binder long enough to be offered the keys to a boarded-up church: Could helping Jimmy also make Ollie’s dream come true? She’s tired of the road. She’d like to attend school, and, perhaps, make a friend.
Hilmo creates a few truly despicable local villains to balance out the pure goodness of Ollie’s family. This well-drawn murder mystery will keep readers absorbed until the satisfying conclusion.
Reviewed by : SC
Themes : ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. FAMILY LIFE. FATHERS. FRIENDSHIP. MYSTERY.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- A story about the meaning of home, justice and love, beautifully told.
- Hilmos’s first novel is a small gem of a book.
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
Schmidt, Gary D. Okay for Now. Clarion Books, 2011.
Ryan, Pam Munoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic Press, 2000.
Brooks, Martha. Queen of Hearts. FSG, 2011.