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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street is a young adult mystery novel written by B.K. Crawford. It's summer, finally, and JJ's more than ready for the arrival of her cousin, Joey, who would be staying with her family for the next month. She even cleaned up her room in preparation for his stay. They were both twelve-years-old, and Joey was the only one of her boy cousins who hadn't yet decided that he hated girls. But when Aunt Celia and Uncle Joe arrived with Joey in tow, he wouldn't even look at her. After two weeks spent anticipating this moment, it was an utter disaster. Joey did hate girls, and even JJ was included in that dire assessment. He admitted the next morning that his pals had given him a hard time about the fact that he would be chumming about with a girl, and he actually seemed angry at her for being the cause of his embarrassment.
For her part, JJ was especially furious because of the secret they shared and the promise she had made to forgo revisiting their momentous discovery of the previous summer until they could go together. So, she left him there, bad attitude and all, and hopped on her bike to rediscover that treasure. It was a tiny, easily overlooked lane that led to the crumbling, vacant house that still harbored tantalizing vestiges of habitation, things like furniture and even, last summer, some cash lying on a counter in the kitchen. When she finally found it again and stood surveying her treasure in all its decrepit glory, she heard a groan issuing from inside the ruins, and coughing. Joey had somehow beaten her to the house, and he was throwing up in the kitchen sink. He was gray-faced and shaking as he begged her not to explore any further, to get out of the house, but there was no way she was going to do that.
I never wanted B.K. Crawford's young adult adventure mystery novel, J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street, to end. I was having just too much fun following JJ and her pal, Bo, as they investigated the untimely deaths of two young boys and found that their sleepy town held dark secrets. JJ is the consummate adventurer and is destined to be an uncannily accomplished archaeologist when she finishes her schooling. She's eight-tenths of the way there already. Crawford's lead character is smart, fearless and resourceful, and I'm gleefully expecting to follow more of her and Bo's adventures. Murder on Moon Street teems with unforgettable characters with compelling histories. There's Miss Tilly and Raggedy Dad, JJ's father, who's alternately boiling mad or filled with a youthful exuberance; the witch of Bear Claw Mountain who might just be cooking up a stew of human children in her cauldron; and her tormented and terrifying brother. Add in a smashing good mystery, a touch of science fiction and and a soupcon of the metaphysical, and you have the ingredients for a grand coming of age novel that appeals on so many levels.
Crawford's writing style is inspired; its dreamy, slow, endless-summer mood and rhythm are irresistible. While there are dark moments, suspense and terrors galore scattered throughout this book, I sat contentedly reading with a huge smile on my face. You see, once in a very great while, I come across a novel that's special, that grabs me and doesn't let go. J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street is one of those rare treats -- it's most highly recommended.