The Three "R's"

Ramblings, Reflections, Reviews … From the "Pen" of William Land

The Strange Likeness: A Review

strange_likeness1Long-time Judy Bolton fans have been waiting for the publication of this book for many years. This beloved series was cancelled in 1967, following the publication of volume #38 in the series. “The Strange Likeness” was a phantom title until 2012.

This best-loved mystery series was written and created by Margaret Sutton. In this first decade of the twenty-first century, two long-time series fans, writing under pseudonyms, were appointed to write the long anticipated book to conclude many of the events of the original series. This new book, published by Applewood Books, was done with the permission of Margaret Sutton’s estate. One of Sutton’s daughters, Marjorie Sutton Eckstein, has created original illustrations for this new book. The cover painting is particularly appealing and charming.

This story covers two of my favourite themes in children’s juvenile series: look-alikes and impersonators and takes place during the Christmas holiday. Judy and her sister-in-law, Honey Dobbs, are shopping at Brandt’s Department Store on Christmas Eve. At one point, a distraught Honey confesses to Judy that she’s worried about her lost brother.

As the girls continue shopping, they spot Judy’s husband, Peter, at a jewelry counter examining a shimmering necklace. Moments later, following a commotion, the valuable necklace, and Peter, are discovered missing!

Judy strongly believes in her husband’s innocence and remembers that a month previously a man who resembled Peter was driving too fast near her home. Peter told her that this man was under investigation. Very likely it was Peter’s double who was the store thief!

Peter’s work as an FBI agent is, as usual, secretive and he is absent for much of Christmas. Following a break-in at her home, Judy agrees to accompany Honey to Bradford to look for her sibling, the missing Mike Vincenzo. As the investigation continues, the girls discover sightings of Peter … or is the man really Peter, or his sinister double?

The story unfolds with exciting mysteries and the return of many long-time characters from the Judy Bolton series; friends Pauline Faulkner, Sylvia Weiss, and Irene Lang Meredith have prominent roles. The mysteries are solved and the story reaches a most satisfying conclusion as Judy and Peter and Honey and Horace make life changing announcements to their families.

This book would rate five stars for me except for one reason. The mysteries were engaging, but at no time was Judy in real danger. This reader was hoping that Judy’s investigation of the Vincenzo neighbourhood and home would have been more exciting. The action in this book pales when compared to the danger Judy faced during her adventures at the Zoller home in “The Secret of the Musical Tree.”

Still, this is a minor criticism of this very satisfying conclusion of the Judy Bolton mystery series.

Kudos to everyone involved in making this wonderful book available to Judy Bolton fans.

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