The Mystery of the Brick Kingdom, by Raymond C. Perkins Jr. of Derby Line, self-published, 140 pages, $4.99 for an e-book or $7.95 for a hard copy. Half of the proceeds will be donated to the American Association for Cancer Research.
Reviewed by Bethany M. Dunbar
copyright the Chronicle 11-14-2012
The Mystery of the Brick Kingdom is the second in a series of mysteries starring two young boys with a knack for investigating.
This one is set so close to home I can look out the window of the Chronicle office and see the setting. The Brick Kingdom is a small historical park where people can take a short path through the woods to see the ruins of Barton’s booming industrial past, which was mostly run by water wheels spun by the water coming from Crystal Lake.
At the top of the hill sits E. M. Brown and Son, where people can buy lumber, paint, grain for their animals, clothing and hardware. The huge old seven-story landmark building plays a big role in the newest mystery written by Mr. Perkins.
Some of the names have been changed here, slightly, to protect the innocent, we must assume. But the changes are so slight that anyone who lives in the area will understand that the town of Burton is definitely based on the town of Barton.
Other names are completely intact, including Vermont Beef Jerky which is a company started by other Perkins family members.
The second book in the series will not disappoint fans of the first one, called The Mystery of the Silver Statue.
The Mystery of the Brick Kingdom is lively, with a good plot, and fun to read. It’s full of suspense and action, chutes and ropes and intrigue. The characters are solid young people, not at all one-dimensional. They are drawn from Mr. Perkins’ experience as a father and a teacher.
B.T. is short for Benjamin Thomas Stevens. Jimmy is his best friend, Jimmy Martin.
After their success finding a long-lost silver statue in the last case, the two have become local heroes and opened an office for their budding security business, checking on summer properties when homeowners are gone. As the second book opens, the pair, just graduated from middle school, are equipped with a microscope, finger printing kit, pre-paid cell phones and information gleaned from an online investigator’s course.
The two are opposites physically. Jimmy is tall and athletic. B.T. is small and has health problems, some of them stemming from a cancerous brain tumor removed surgically when he was only five years old.
Armed with cans of wasp spray and tae kwon do skills achieved at Dunlavey’s Black Belt Academy, the two decide to meet someone who has written them an anonymous note — the person wants to meet them in the Brick Kingdom at midnight.
Without giving away too much here, it turns out that the mystery involves a will left by one of the founding fathers of the town, and family members’ struggles over the estate.
Important documents have been stashed away, and it’s up to the two young detectives to help find them.
As the story unfolds, our heroes get involved with two young ladies about their age who have an interest in finding the truth. Some chemistry seems to be starting, a sign that the young detectives are growing up a little with each book:
“At that moment, it dawned on B.T. that Patti had asked for his help and his help alone, with no mention of Jimmy or their security business; just him, B.T. Stevens. A massive knot formed in his throat and his heart skipped a beat as he gazed adoringly at Patti’s plain-featured natural beauty.”
A moment later he tells himself he must keep his focus.
“‘A good detective doesn’t get involved personally in his cases. Rule #5,’ he silently mumbled to himself sadly. ‘Try to remember that, Lover Boy.’”
Rule number 5 is quoted from the online detective course he took.
The mystery turns out to be much more than child’s play as unfriendly adult relatives who are also seeking the documents related to the family fortune enter the picture. Let’s just say the wasp spray comes in handy.
Situations in the book challenge B.T. physically, intellectually, and emotionally, and he rises to each challenge. This series will prove inspiring to young adults who haven’t always had it easy in life. The main hero is not James Bond; he’s a boy with some disabilities who has been raised to always try his best.
The Mystery of the Brick Kingdom hints that the boys might be headed next to the Haskell Opera House, which would no doubt provide another good setting for a mystery adventure for the intrepid pair of B.T. and Jimmy.
This book is available at E.M. Brown’s in Barton, the Woodknot Bookshop in Newport, at the Evansville Trading Post or online at http://mystery4me.wix.com/btandjimmy#!home/
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]