Melody Bird’s favorite place is the graveyard. It’s full of history and beauty, not sadness, and it’s always peaceful and absent of shouting. After her parents split up because of Dad’s deceit, team MC—Melody and her mom Claudia—support one another.
One day while walking in the graveyard with her dachshund Frankie, Melody discovers a house overgrown by weeds and vines. After some research, she learns that this is a plague house, a quarantine facility that is hundreds of years old.
Melody can’t wait to share her find with her best friend, Matthew Corbin. Matthew has a fear of germs and a tendency towards obsessive compulsive disorder. Because he is seeing a therapist, he is learning coping mechanisms, but Melody is quite sure her friend won’t wish to accompany her to the plague house. Besides, his time is more and more frequently monopolized by Jake Bishop, who tends to tease Melody, calling her weird since she’s not part of the lip-gloss world of girls.
On one of her trips, Melody encounters Hal Vincent, a sixteen-year-old boy who claims to be working for MI8 as a spy. He is occupying the plague house in a type of stake-out, as he watches Martin Stone, a suspected thief of the infamous Kingfisher Necklace. Gradually, Hal invites Melody to be part of the team to collect clues that will solve the mystery. Riddles left on a gravestone, once decoded, provide clues to solving the secret location of the necklace. With time, their friendship deepens.
As the plot thickens, some of Hal’s behaviors become suspect, and when Hal is connected to unusual occurrences—a lost brooch and an allergic reaction in Jake that seems intentional—Melody isn’t ready to abandon her new friend. Hal has shown her magic tricks and asked for her help in a criminal investigation, so she doesn’t want to believe that he tried to physically harm Jake or that he is lying. Yet, Matthew persists in claiming that Hal is not who he pretends to be.
The Graveyard Riddle by Lisa Thompson is a well-paced mystery with Hal at its center, but other plot threads include a potential move when Claudia determines she can no longer afford the rent at Chestnut Close. Melody refuses to accept the possibility of leaving her childhood home and her friends and insists that Mom reach out to Dad for help.
Another plot thread comes in the form of a teacher, Mr. Jenkins, who is bullying Jake. At its core, this middle grade novel features a sensitive story about mental health, friendship, and trust.
- Posted by Donna