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The Secret of the Sealed Room


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About the Author

Bailey MacDonald is a professional actress and playwright who lives near Atlanta, Georgia. When she is not writing, she performs under a different name with a theater group in that city. Bailey has always loved theater, and when she began to write her first historical mystery, it was a natural choice to select Stratford-on-Avon, the home of the great William Shakespeare, as the setting for a tale of trickery, murder, and detective work.


Gr 5-8-Fourteen-year-old Patience Martin, the orphaned daughter of a sea captain and an escaped slave, lives in 1721 Boston as an indentured servant. Mrs. Worth is a difficult mistress, but Patience is nonetheless shocked when the pregnant woman dies of arsenic poisoning. Running away to escape indenture to Mrs. Worth's brother-in-law, Patience learns that she and midwife Moll Bacon are both murder suspects. Young Benjamin Franklin, as mischievous as Tom Sawyer, agrees to help Patience find the true culprit. MacDonald has crafted an engaging mystery starring one of America's most intriguing historical figures. Readers will appreciate the vivid details of Boston's chill weather, noxious odors, and lively tradesmen as they piece the clues together along with the protagonists. The denouement reveals each twist of the crime and ties up Patience's future nicely. There are a few flaws, however. While the narration allows for an intimate portrayal of colonial Massachusetts, Patience tells her story as an adult, and it isn't clear why she has decided to tell it or what meaning it has in her present life. As such, it seems incomplete. The final words of the book, stating how clever Franklin is, seem artificial given that Patience and Ben solve the mystery in equal parts. That said, they make an enterprising pair in this lively story with a Sherlock Holmesian finale.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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