[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Mystery of the Lost Avenger” by Linda Maria Frank.]
4 out of 4 stars
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The Mystery of the Lost Avenger is the fourth book in Linda Marie Frank’s Annie Tillery Mystery series. The story begins when Annie’s mother receives a letter from the military about her deceased grandmother, Charlotte Wheeler, who was a WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) during World War II. When they recently recovered a plane that crashed in 1943, the military also found a note penned by Charlotte.
Annie and her mother are instantly intrigued. They know that Charlotte built and flew military planes during the war, but they don’t know much else. Annie and her mother slowly unravel Charlotte’s story with the help of Annie’s boyfriend. However, the more they learn, the more questions they have.
What caused the plane to crash, and how did Charlotte’s letter end up on it? Was Charlotte involved in the crash? Did Charlotte uncover a nefarious scheme at the base? A bundle of old letters, a Latin book, a secret code, and a helpful attic ghost are the keys to solving the case.
The story switches between Annie in the present and Charlotte in 1943. I like the way that the author transitions from the present to the past. It is as though, the more Annie uncovers of her great-grandmother’s courageous story, the more she learns about herself and her similarities to her ancestor.
I also like that these two strong, smart, and independent women are the focus of the story. Annie is a well-developed protagonist. Curious and optimistic, she is preparing to move away to college. She has a good relationship with her father and aunt but not with her mother. Annie wrestles with feelings of abandonment but still tries to mend her relationship with her mother. Throughout the book, she is inquisitive and determined to find the truth, much like her great-grandmother. Charlotte risks her life to uncover a deadly saboteur. She sends coded letters to her boyfriend at great risk to herself. Even after a brutal assault, Charlotte continues her investigation. She and Annie show perseverance and resilience and are great role models for younger readers.
The Mystery of the Lost Avenger is a quick-paced story with a generally optimistic and light tone. However, the novel also addresses heavy topics like addiction, feelings of abandonment, and healing. Annie’s mother is a recovering alcoholic who was absent for much of Annie’s childhood. Their relationship realistically fluctuates between awkward tolerance and enthusiastic acceptance. Including this element to the story adds meaningful depth and dimension to the plot and the characters.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is a wonderful mystery with dynamic characters and an interesting plot. It also includes a sweet and supportive romance. The story is void of vulgarity and sexuality and is appropriate for all readers who like chapter books. Though the target audience is tweens and young teens, I think older teens and adults will also appreciate the story, the historical references, and the underlying themes.