The Midnight Tunnel is written by Angie Frazier. It was published in 2011 by Scholastic. It is a Suzanna Snow mystery, which I assume means that there will be more of these books to come. Frazier’s website can be found here.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Children’s
“Suzanna “Zanna” Snow has sleuthing in her blood. With the famous Bostonian detective, Bruce Snow, as her uncle, she knows she has more than just a pinch of investigative talent. But nothing out of the ordinary ever happens where Zanna lives in the sleepy coastal town of Loch Harbor, New Brunswick. Instead of sharpening her detective skills, she’s stuck serving tea and learning how to become a “proper lady” at the Rosemount, an exclusive summer hotel under her parents’ impeccable management.
Everything changes one night during a thunderstorm, when one of the hotel guests, a young girl, goes missing. Zanna is certain she has clues that lead to the girl, but only her friends, Lucy and Isaac, believe her. When Detective Bruce Snow is called in, Zanna sees her chance to help solve the case. But everything is not what it seems, and as the mystery thickens, Zanna begins to suspect another crime is unfolding. If her instincts prove correct, she’s sleuthed her way into a grave amount of danger.”
“I came out of the water and tucked my pencil and notebook into my skirt pocket. I’d jotted down the discovery of the cigar and socks thinking they might mean something at some point, however odd they were. I’d have to review last summer’s notebook for anything similar. I filled these notebooks with observations, theories, overheard conversations, detective rules and any number of quotations about detective work I chanced upon.”
“Zanna!” My mother’s voice ripped into my room. I sprang up and threw the quilt off my head. Her hair was a mess, her dress wrinkled, her expression wild and desperate.
“Dress quickly, there’s an emergency at the hotel.” Her voice wavered. “A guest has gone missing.”
My fingers curled into the cotton quilt. “What? Who?”
I remembered the pair of skinny legs, outlined by a flash of lightning, as my mother wrung her hands.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
This was a fun mystery. It wasn’t too obvious and everything tied in together very nicely. It also wasn’t too complicated, which I’m counting as a good thing here since it was geared for younger children. It reminded me of the Mandie mysteries by Lois Gladys Leppard.
Suzanna is an easy protagonist to like, with a few humorous asides and generally amusing behavior. I also really liked Will, who (spoiler?) wasn’t set up as a rival as I expected when they were first introduced (end). The “rival” is getting a bit too common in YA and children’s books these days, although it makes for some nice conflict and antagonism, etc. so I was happy that Frazier didn’t go that route (for Will, anyway).
What I Didn’t Like:
I am starting to strongly dislike the “girl rebels against propriety” plot. For once, can we have a girl who actually decides to follow propriety instead of treating it as some type of Bad Thing that is Stifling Her? Granted, Suzanna is about 12 years old, but not all 12-year-olds are rebellious. Let’s actually follow early-1900-norms and traditions when we write books about the early 1900s instead of basing everything on our modern experiences and sentiments (I’m not saying that nobody was rebellious in this way in the early 1900s. I’m saying that we should stop treating it like every girl rebelled against the social conventions of that day because most girls probably didn’t, and our writing should reflect that).
The Midnight Tunnel is a mystery that many younger (and older) readers will enjoy. The characters are likeable and the mystery itself is suspenseful and not always obvious. I find myself looking forward for more Suzanna Snow mysteries if Frazier will write them.
Coming Up Next: The Seventh Level by Jody Feldman