As per her Amazon page: Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first “book” at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and after writing THE MYSTERY OF SHADOW HILLS, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day. Carrie Cross’s influences include Judy Blume, Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Lee Child. In addition to writing Skylar Robbins mysteries and reading, Carrie loves to cook, hike at the beach, go boating, and travel. During a recent interview she was asked, “Where do you get your inspiration?” “When I was six years old, my parents decided we needed to buy a bigger house. We looked at a creepy two-story in Santa Monica Canyon, and I played hide-and-seek with the little girl who lived there. There were closets and secret hiding places with doors that opened into other rooms. Later, I wondered, “What if there was a clue hidden in one of those closets?” And the idea for the Skylar Robbins mystery series was born. Skylar’s adventures continue in THE MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS. After she solves her second big case, the Skylar Robbins Detective Agency tackles THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING HEIRESS. Carrie Cross is currently at work on her fourth Skylar Robbins novel, THE CURSE OF KOMA ISLAND. Follow Carrie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teendetectiveskylar and at www.carrie-cross.com.
My grandfather’s face popped into my mind, and within seconds I was longing to see him again. Grandpa had taught me all sorts of important skills for finding clues, investigating mysteries, and solving cases. I remembered how he taught me to lift fingerprints like it was yesterday:
Grandpa treated me to a blue-eyed smile. Then he winked at me and held out his hand with a Kleenex covering his palm. “Let’s see that juice box.” I put the box of Juicy-Juice I’d just finished on the tissue. He moved it onto the table in front of him, careful not to touch the surfaces of the box with his fingers. “This is fingerprinting powder,” he explained, holding up what looked like a jar of dark ash. “Watch,” my grandfather said, sprinkling some of the powder onto the side of the juice box. Then he took a big soft brush and whisked most of the powder onto a napkin.
I leaned closer. A crisp, gray copy of my fingerprint stuck to the side of the waxy box like a decal on the back of my bike.
“Now we lift the print.” Grandpa removed a clear, sticky piece of tape from a roll. He pressed it down on top of my fingerprint, and then very slowly peeled the tape off of the box. “See?” he said, showing it to me. My fingerprint made a perfect picture on the clear tape. “Now let’s mount this on a Case Solution card.” He took a card off the stack he had in his detective kit, and pressed the tape down onto the card, trapping my print. I watched him fill in the case line. Since there was no case number he just wrote, SKYLAR ROBBINS’S FINGERPRINT.
Grandpa handed me the card. “It’s yours to keep. Next weekend we’ll print someone else and I’ll teach you how to compare fingerprints to see if you can find a match.”
“OK,” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Let’s print Mom.”
“Let’s,” he agreed, his eyes full of fun.
The Mystery of Shadow Hills (The Skylar Robbins Mysteries) by Carrie Cross
4 stars out of 5
Of course, I am not part of the intended audience for this book, so my view might be a bit skewed by my age. Despite my age band, I was able to read it, and that in itself says something, considering the fact that I’m – unfortunately – a very picky reader and I get bored easily.
That being said, I definitely recommend this book to teenagers. The tone of the narrative is light enough to encourage them to continue reading and the plot is interesting enough for a twelve or thirteen-year old. It really made me remember some of the books I read when I was that age.
The protagonist is Skylar Robbins who wants nothing else in life but to be a Private Investigator like her late grandpa. The writer did a good job in presenting this young girl. It is believable and well anchored in the reality of the respective age. She has all the confidence and doubts characteristic to someone of her age and a young reader could identify themselves with her. The character is well developed and I think that the narrative in first person might have contributed seriously to that.
I always try to avoid writing a synopsis of the books I review and I will do the same here. Keeping in mind that the novel is for a young audience, I would say that the author succeeded in her task. Either she remembers how it felt and how one thought at that age or she is a good psychologist. Anyway, she did an amazing job in her incursion in the young psyche.
One thing might detract from the quality of the book (again, I repeat, I am trying to see the book through the eyes of a young reader): too detailed descriptions. I, for one, liked them, however, a young reader might not have the patience to read them.
On the whole, this is a good book for the intended audience. I would recommend it.
The Mystery of Hidden Jewels (The Skylar Robbins Mysteries) by Carrie Cross
5 stars out of 5
I read this second book of the series the same day as the first and probably that’s why the impact is so strong. If the first book in the series seemed good enough for a teenager, this second book was good enough for an adult, even though the protagonists kept being the same teenager as in the first one.
This novel is a real surprise. Authors evolve in time. Their writing gets better and better – if the writer is good to begin with, of course. However, it is surprising to see so much development in a second book. The fluidity of the story mesmerizes and simply catches you in: you can’t put the book down. I read it in one sitting.
The main character was developed in the first book, but here there’s much more substance. The author surprises the teenager’s evolution and if the first book Skylar was just a curious girl, tattering on the brink of evolution, now she becomes really interesting: there are some doubts but not so definite. She has the courage to stand for her convictions and thus the story becomes catchier.
I recommended the first book – mostly to children between 10 and 13. This one goes beyond that age band. If someone likes a good mystery, a fluid plot, catchy dialogue, then, they should read this book.
Born sometime in the past century, living in the 21st century.
Sometimes I have good ideas... (what do you think?)
Sometimes fascinating guests!
(that for sure!)
Sometimes I have to share some of my frustrations,..
(not too tempting, huh!)
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