Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn took me back to my love of mystery and ghost stories. As a young reader, Nancy Drew was a favorite and I devoured them for several years. (I still remember my disappointment upon learning Carolyn Keene was a pen name for various authors in the series!) Hahn has written a novel reminiscent of this genre while at the same time presenting a story that is a bit deeper and richer in character development.
Browsing through a box of books from her grandmother's house, thirteen year old Ali finds a photograph of her mother Claire, her aunt Dulcie inside a Nancy Drew novel. The picture, thirty years old and faded with age, is damaged, showing the sisters in front of a lake and the arm of a third child identified in her grandmothers handwriting as having a name beginning with "T." Curious, Ali takes the picture to her mother and is abruptly told she no longer remembers the third child's identity, leave it be. Several months later, Ali's aunt Dulcie and cousin Emma arrive with plans to vacation at the family cabin in Maine; a cabin that they have not visited in thirty odd years and just happens to be located on a lake.Consumed with the idea of learning the identity of the mysterious third child and joyful at the opportunity to spend the summer by the lake, Ali jumps at the chance to baby-sit Emma for the summer.
Their vacation begins with fun and high hopes as Dulcie paints and Emma and Ali enjoy their time on the beach. However, with the appearance of a seemingly homeless, and harshly clever, young girl named Sissy, who slyly "befriends" Emma, circumstances begin to change transforming their once idyllic vacation into something dark, sinister, and potentially dangerous. Family, mysterious events and a thirty year old murder collide, forcing Ali to juggle family truth and secrets with an unwavering ghostly presence. Readers will be drawn to Ali's determination to solve the mystery and understand her mother and aunt's shared thirty year old summer secret.
Tags: Deep and Dark and Dangerous, Mary Downing Hahn, Juvenile fiction, Juvenile fiction ghost story, Juvenile fiction mystery