When you pick up a mystery novel, what do you expect?
- A crime or some other kind of puzzle to be solved
- A detective as the main character
- Several suspects with motive, means, and opportunity
- A suspenseful plot with many clues, including some that are false or misleading
- A satisfying resolution that makes you feel like you could have solved the mystery yourself
These are conventions of the mystery genre. We know them from a lifetime of experience with books and movies, but kids have to discover them for themselves.
Tracy Barrett’s The 100-Year-Old Secret is a good introductions to the genre. Larrabee pronounced it one of the “best detective stories” he’s read. Blaine enjoyed it too when he was younger.
It’s part of a series featuring two American kids, Xena and Xander Holmes, descendants of the great Sherlock Holmes. In the first book, the siblings are tasked with finding a missing painting.
While Larrabee was reading it, he said, “I think I know who’s in the painting… But I still have a lot of chapters left.” That, my young friend, sounds like a red herring.