Three Times Lucky (review)
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Reviewed by
Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky. Dial, 2012. [324p]. ISBN 978-0-8037-3670-2 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7.

Rising sixth-grader Moses (Mo) LeBeau enjoys her unconventional life in colorful little Tupelo Landing, NC. Washed ashore in a hurricane as a baby and rescued by the Colonel (who suffers from amnesia), she has since been raised by him and his longtime live-in girlfriend, Miss Lana. Together they run Tupelo Landing's café, and when Mo isn't there, she's hanging out with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, or honing her sleuthing skills by trying to track down her "Upstream Mother." Mo's detective impulses kick in big time when lawman Joe Starr comes to town, investigating a Winston-Salem murder that might be tied to Tupelo Landing. When Mr. Jesse, the town's reclusive old codger, is murdered as well, things get dangerous for Mo and for those she loves. Luckily, the truth about the murderer (and about the Colonel's mysterious past) is discovered in time to save Mo and her family and friends. Sure, quirky literary small towns are a dime a dozen, but Turnage populates the fictional Tupelo Landing with several strong, original, and immensely likable characters. Mo's deadpan colloquial narration is robust and often humorous, but her mysterious origins lead to some poignant observations as well: "Behind my back, Anna Celeste Simpson—my Sworn Enemy for Life—says I'm a throw-away kid, with no true place to call home. So far, nobody's had the guts to say it to my face, but I hear whispers the way a knife-thrower's assistant hears knives." The well-plotted murder mystery (and a frightening encounter with Dale's mean drunken daddy) provides genuine tension and makes the 300-plus pages fly past. Mystery lovers and fans of titles like Di Camillo's Because of Winn-Dixie (BCCB 6/00) or Klise's Grounded (BCCB 1/11) will definitely want to set a spell with Mo.

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