McClintock, Norah . Trial By Fire. Orca 2016 231p $10.95 ISBN 978-1-4598-0936-9 ms Conflict VG
In this new Riley Donovan mystery, McClintock brings the issue of prejudice to her plot in a small-town setting where the issue of rightful ownership of a farm comes to the forefront. When a barn is set on fire and its owner nearly dies, dons her detective hat and examines all possibilities. Along with a cast of characters that is certain to entertain, Riley uses her wits and all of her sleuthing abilities to solve the crime. Her Aunt Ginny has accepted a job as a police detective in a nondescript small town where a farm recently went on the seller’s block due to a lack of funds to keep it going. Nearly half the town resents the new owner, as much for his ethnicity as for the fact that they believe he “stole” the farm from its rightful owner. Naturally, Mr. Goram tries to protect his new property, and this leads to a potentially deadly fire as the inciting incident. Intrigue grows when Mr. Goram’s son, who is not above suspicion, returns from Afghanistan to look after his father. Riley meets local teen Ashleigh, and the two hit it off. At a party Riley meets several teens with whom she has had a struggle, and they, too, become suspects. As luck has it, Riley learns that a lovely bamboo arrangement has been delivered to Mr. Goram’s hospital room from a local florist, and she traces the buyer to the local bank. From that point on, she is clearly on the path to solving the crime.
McClintock’s mysteries have solid plots, interesting characters and appropriate numbers of mysterious clues for young readers to figure out.
Summary: Riley Donovan must figure out who set a barn on fire, nearly causing its new owner, a foreigner, to die. Prejudice, ownership, guilt and innocence come together as a small town watches and waits.
Mystery-Fiction, Prejudice-Fiction --Martha Squaresky