Tuesday, March 20, 2012

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau

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Available April 1, 2012

“Some people won’t believe any of this story. You might be one of them. But every single word is true. Tony DiMarco does catch a murderer, solve a mystery, and find treasure – all in the first few days after he moves, unexpectedly, to 13 Hangmen’s Court in Boston. The fact that he also turns thirteen at the same time is not a coincidence.”

So begins the story of Tony and his friends – give 13 year-old boys, all of whom are living in the same house in the same attic bedroom but at different times in history! None are ghosts, all are flesh and blood, and somehow all have come together in the attic room, visible only to one another. And all are somehow linked to a murder, a mystery, and a treasure.

Is it too early to claim a favorite for 2012? 13 Hangmen was such fun reading that I can’t wait to share it with my daughter when it finally comes out.

This thrilling story combines everything described above – murder, mystery and a treasure hunt.  But the author has also added history, mythology and numerology into the mix. All of this is done so impressively that it’s thoroughly engaging reading as soon as it gets under way.

On his thirteenth birthday, Tony inherits a house that belonged to his Uncle Angelo – a man he only met once and barely knew. The inheritance comes with some odd stipulations – he must live in the house until he’s twenty-one, his bedroom must be in the attic and he cannot ever sell the house to any member of the Hagmann family who are perennial enemies of his family. This inheritance results in the uprooting of the entire family (his parents and his older twin brothers) from Detroit to Boston.

Getting used to his new digs is quite the task especially when he learns about what makes the house special.  It all starts with an old Red Sox baseball hat and from there the adventure begins. I won’t go into what happens next because it’s honestly so exciting that I don’t want to risk any spoilers. Suffice it to say that Tony somehow comes into contact with previous occupants of the house and delves into its history, the neighborhood and even a significant time in the country’s past.

Since I was a kid, I have always, always loved history and what I love about this book is how imaginatively Corriveau blends historical elements and makes them work in this adventure through time. Even though he admits to tweaking certain details to fit the story, he makes history interactive, a neat reminder that some of the greatest events come about as a result of chance encounters. And Tony, a sensible protagonist who starts out in the shadow of his more outgoing brothers, becomes the hero when he gains confidence in his own abilities to eventually save the day. 

I highly recommend 13 Hangmen simply for its good writing and inspired storytelling. I was drawn into this book, eager with every turn of the page to discover the next clue in the puzzle. Anyone who's a fan of mystery or the 39 Clues series will enjoy this. 

~ Bel

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