• Pro Review
  • Discovery Awards

Publisher:
N/A

Publication Date:
12/01/2020

Copyright Date:
N/A

ISBN:
978-1-7349083-1-2

Binding:
Paperback

U.S. SRP:
N/A

CALENDULA PROOF

By Steve McManus

IR_Star-black
IR Rating:
4.0
With its fast pace, well-drawn characters, and tight delivery, CALENDULA PROOF will satisfy YA or adult readers who want to unravel an entertaining mystery over a few summer days.
IR Approved

The second in a promising new YA mystery series by Steve McManus, CALENDULA PROOF wastes no time in establishing its characters, setting, and intent: the first line of the book has a concerned neighbor complaining to the protagonists about a recent break-in by seasonal tourists and asking them to investigate. As such, readers will know from page one that they’re in for a rollicking adventure as summer-free kids bike around a seaside town in 1991 California, meeting the townspeople and digging up history as they piece together the baffling goings-on of an estate sale and its attendant society. But while the setup borrows plenty from Stephen King’s bands of bike-riding adventurers, or classic mysteries like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, CALENDULA PROOF owes a greater tonal debt to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; here, adults all have their own agendas and are more often obstacles than allies, while children struggle to be taken seriously and are forced to solve problems on their own.

McManus advances the plot rapidly from key characters to central locales, and by halfway through the text the action has heightened so dramatically that it rides a surprisingly high level of tension all the way to the resolution. There’s an interesting structural decision made roughly a quarter of the way in, as the identity and background of a key player are revealed outright in flashback; while some readers might have preferred piecing it together along with the protagonists, the choice doesn’t affect the central tension of who will make off with ill-gotten gains, or how, especially as counter-plots begin piling up. The prose handles all of this cleanly, neither awkward nor distracting, and some small typos (“interesting” for “interested”) and stylistic foibles (generous use of commas and italics) are fairly balanced by evocative and sometimes beautiful imagery.

There are two sides to the plot, and although the primary focus isn’t thematic, CALENDULA PROOF deserves praise for its heart. Younger readers will appreciate brave youths taking on grown-ups and foiling a heist, but adults will find more to chew on in the shady dealings of auctioneers and financiers. While the former can expect the satisfaction of kids sticking it to authority figures, the latter will reflect that the action is driven by the unscrupulous deeds of the super-rich, and dogged by police more concerned with protecting their image than with justice. CALENDULA PROOF is an early-90s period piece, but the power of truth is its most modern and enduring message.

With its fast pace, well-drawn characters, and tight delivery, CALENDULA PROOF will satisfy YA or adult readers who want to unravel an entertaining mystery over a few summer days.

~Daniel Accardi for IndieReader

Publisher:
N/A

Publication Date:
12/01/2020

Copyright Date:
N/A

ISBN:
978-1-7349083-1-2

Binding:
Paperback

U.S. SRP:
N/A

CALENDULA PROOF

By Steve McManus

In CALENDULA PROOF, Steve McManus delivers a fun, fast-paced adventure that pits a group of plucky kid-detectives against a surprisingly sympathetic trio of hapless thieves. Featuring clever turns of phrase and genuine laugh-out-loud moments, CALENDULA PROOF is a joy to read – from its opening all the way to its hilarious finale.