Grant, Helen The Vanishing of Katherine Linden
Delacorte see Random 2009 287p 24.00
978-0-385-34417-3 hs/adult Missing children, horror thriller VG
Pia becomes an outcast when her grandmother “explodes,” overshadowing the sudden disappearance of first Katharina Linden, and the other children in the small German village of Bad Münstereifel, which Pia begins to investigate.
A rare delight of a first novel that will appeal to both adult and young adult audiences. The characterization is outstanding, the writing lyrical, yet dark and forboding. Touches of supernatural glint on the edges of the narrative and the mystery is challenging and first rate. That the protagonist, Pia, is only 10 has no bearing on the enjoyment of the story by many age groups. In many ways, this is reminiscent of Flavia de Luce, Alan Bradley’s dauntless 11-year-old sleuth (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, 2009 and The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, 2010). Quirky, many-layered and a mystery readers will not want to put down, from the grandmother’s spontaneous combustion at the beginning of the book until the truly scary ending. The light tone of the narration belies the frightening and sinister character of the story. Not for younger readers, but satisfying and engaging for older ones. A delightful horror story.
This novel had just been selected for the 2011 Alex Award. Mystery/Detective Naismith, Pat