October 7th, 2014

smirk by geekilicious

Book 88

Nobody's SecretNobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I've mentioned in other reviews, I have a love-hate relationship with books using real historical people as sleuths. In this case, Emily Dickinson. Now, I'll be honest. I know her work but know very little about her life (the author does give a nice history at the end) so I can't speak to whether or not it felt like this could really be Emily or not.

That said, it was enjoyable. Emily is fifteen, suffering poor health and growing up with her sister Vinnie, and her oppressive mother who seems to have migraines and lives in fear of two things, losing their considerable means and losing her children. Mom is the Lady of the Household determined not only will her girls learn to be good wives and rulers of their own homes but that they will do it frugrally making them do things for themselves instead of buying it in spite of being able to afford it (like churning butter). If this is remotely true, I can see why some of her poetry is depressing.

Emily is out for a walk and meets a handsome young man who takes a liking to her intellect. They only meet and talk briefly a couple of times calling each other Mr and Miss Nobody before he tells her that he has family trouble he needs to settle before leaving Amherst and that he needs to talk to her lawyer father.

She never finds out his name and then he turns up dead in the pond on her family's property. Emily is determined to find out why her friend died. This is a huge undertaking for a young woman in the early 1800s. There certainly wasn't much freedom then and Emily had even less as her mother obsessed over her poor health.

Emily is aided by her sister (and hindered by her mother) as she tries to at least discover Mr. Nobody's name and why he died, especially after it was revealed he didn't drown and nobody seemed to care. Things get even more murky when Henry Langston shows up, but he is part of the key. He looks almost exactly like Mr. Nobody but finding a relative for the poor dead man is just the beginning.

It is a fun, quick story. As a mystery, well, it wasn't that mysterious to me. I've been reading mysteries since I was in grade school many years ago. The actual YA audience might be more surprised by the how and who. I had that figured out painfully early. But even so, I enjoyed this a lot.

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