Monday, June 25, 2012

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

     Mo LoBeau is not your average 11 year-old.  She was born "during one of the meanest hurricanes in history" and for some reason, her "upstream mother" placed her infant daughter on a makeshift raft and hoped that she would float to safety.  Luckily, Mo was rescued in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina by a man known as The Colonel, who had the good sense to place the infant girl into the loving arms of Miss Lana.  The Colonel and Miss Lana raised Mo as their own, but she's still awfully curious about her upstream mother, so she frequently sends out messages in bottles, hoping that she and her mother will someday be reunited by the very same water that separated them.

     Now 11 years old, Mo is an established detective in Tupelo Landing, solving minor mysteries, reuniting lost pets with owners, and still pursuing the case of her negligent birth mother.  But when the town's grumpiest, least favorite resident turns up dead under suspicious circumstances, Mo and her best friend, Dale, are hot on the case - much to the chagrin of the lead investigator, Mr. Joe Starr.  Pretty soon, Mo and Dale find themselves in deep and dangerous waters - both literally and figuratively.  The killer has set his sights on Mo's loved ones just as another hurricane bears down on the sleepy little town.  But our heroine isn't gonna let a tropical storm stop her from finding the murderer - especially when Miss Lana and The Colonel might be in danger.

     Three Times Lucky is full of colorful characters with dazzling personalities and heaps of southern charm.  Miss Lana, for instance, runs a local cafe which she often decorates in themes (French, Hollywood Stars, etc).  And don't worry, she has multiple wigs and costumes to match the various themes, not to mention a wide variety of culinary selections.  Mo prefers to serve up peanut butter and jelly with an ice cold Mountain Dew to customers, but she appreciates the cultural experience Miss Lana offers nonetheless.  When she's not researching her own autobiography, Mo also supports Dale's older (and quite handsome) brother, Lavender, in his dream to become a NASCAR driver.  It runs in the family. After all, Dale's full name is Dale Earnhardt Johnson III.

     Mo LoBeau is a loud-mouthed, nosy, preteen busybody and good for her - and the rest of Tupelo Landing.  She may not be gentle or ladylike, but she's just what the town needs to save them from a crazed killer.  And as a lover of southern literature, I can't help but appreciate the book's southern charm and firecracker plot.  Sheila Turnage's debut YA novel is a delight for teens and adults alike.  Mo LoBeau is a sassy, southern-bred heroine, and believe me, you do not want to miss her fast-paced and endearing story.

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