Title: Shadows by the Lighthouse
Author: Melissa Puritis
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Welcome to Summerset Island, where the sand is golden and murder looms on the horizon.
Summerset Island’s lighthouse is a beacon for beach lovers; the sand is golden, the sea glistening, the locals welcoming, or at least welcoming to the visitors who are wealthy enough to stay. Avery Fowler isn’t going to Summerset Island for a chance to work on his tan, though. His father is now Summerset’s Chief of Police, so thirteen-year-old Avery must leave his old life behind and start over in this North Carolina town. The only reason he is giving this a chance is the promise his father made; this job would be slower and safer. But when a police officer is murdered, that promise dies too. Avery, wanting justice for the first person on the island who welcomed him, searches for the truth with the help of his new friends. Those friends come with their own struggle, though, as Avery wonders if he can trust them and where his place will be on the first day of school. Being thirteen is pretty complicated. He's told to just be a kid, just go play, but Avery wants to show that kids can do more than play; sometimes they can be the ones who save the day.
Owen shares all that Bowen had talked about, ending with the theory of drugs on the island and how Officer Brown got hurt because of it. Avery studies his father’s face, his gray- blue eyes soft. One thing that Avery loves about his dad is that he does not discredit what Avery has to say just because he is young. So yeah, this theory might be completely off the wall, but his dad will hear them out anyway.
Not all adults do that.
Chief Fowler runs a hand through his hair before speaking, “I appreciate that you boys brought this to us. I’m aware of the rumors, and of course Joe and Brian know far more about any truth there might be to it. It’s certainly something that I think we need to look into. However, I think it will just be us looking into it. Now that the SBI has been brought in, I will have very little say in what happens in the case. I’m being told that the reason they are coming is because my priority to the town is to keep the tourists safe, and I can’t do that if I am distracted by a murder investigation. Plus, if we are being honest, most of the officers here are not equipped to handle that kind of investigation. What worries me, though, is that I am hearing rumblings of people believing that Officer Brown did this to herself.”
The boys begin protesting and Avery’s father holds up his hands in response.
“I know boys, I don’t believe it either, or at least I don’t want to. We have to see what the evidence shows.”
Owen’s father, Joe, puts his hand on Owen’s shoulder, and adds, “I am really proud of you boys for wanting to find the truth for her. She would be honored to know how much you boys care. And going to Bowen, asking the questions you did, who knows, you may just end up following in our footsteps. Please remember, though, that there are professionals on the case. We don’t want you doing anything that could get you hurt or in trouble.”
“Yeah, but think, Dad, if you guys aren’t really supposed to be investigating it, who will make sure everything is really considered? Who will care enough?” asks Owen.
“At least we can ask some questions and do the leg work that the SBI won’t want you to be doing, but that you know needs to be done. We’re her people; we should be looking for her killers.”
It’s a mic drop moment.
* * *
Later, alone in his room, Avery lay in his bed, rolling his Magic 8-Ball between his hands and considering all that he had heard today. Officer Brown was so kind, so welcoming, always with a laugh and a smile for whoever needed it. Why would anyone think she would want to hurt herself? On the other hand, though, how crazy is it to think that Summerset Island is home to a huge crime conspiracy? “Did someone do this to her?” Avery asks.
It is certain.
Avery’s eyes widen. Okay, he’s clearly losing it. Sleep deprivation? Heat stroke? Stress? It’s a toy, and he needs to get a grip. But then he thinks for a moment about the other questions he asked. So far, each time the Magic 8-Ball has been correct, so… he shakes his head. “Get your life right, Fowler. Go to bed,” he says to himself.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Shadows by the Lighthouse is a must read for all ages because it provides a captivating mystery that will keep you guessing, all while allowing you to fall in love with these characters who are growing and developing along with the case. The relationships, the insecurities, the care these characters have leaps off the page, making it reminiscent for older readers and fun for younger ones.
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Melissa Puritis fell in love with reading as soon as she could hold a book in her hands and with mysteries thanks to Nancy Drew. Now, she gets to share her love of stories and words with her middle school students. When she’s not in the classroom, Melissa can be found with her son, Avery, exploring the mountains or lounging on the beaches of North Carolina. Completed with the help of a Taylor Swift soundtrack and a diet of iced coffee and Twizzlers, Shadows by the Lighthouse is her first novel.
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