The Clue in the Trees
University of Minnesota Press
Published September 19, 2017
About The Clue in the Trees
Francie’s brother Theo has secrets—secrets Francie thinks she wants to know. But what if one of those secrets is that Theo is a murderer? To avoid considering that possibility, Francie plunges into her senior year at a small-town high school near Enchantment Lake in northern Minnesota. It’s a radical change from her private school in New York, but she hopes to keep an eye on her great aunts and maybe finally learn more about the mother she never knew. A small silver box seems to hold the answers, and she is determined to get her hands on it.
But when her long-lost brother turns up, so does a dead body, and once again Francie is drawn into a mystery. A long list of suspects, with Theo at the top, keeps her head spinning. When Francie herself becomes a suspect she starts to feel like she is walking on thin ice, but it isn’t until she is literally walking on thin ice that the pieces start to come together—and by then it may be too late.
In her previous adventure ENCHANTMENT LAKE, Francie was thrown into northern Minnesota lake living: fishing, berry picking, lost kayaks and scary boat rides, poisoned hotdishes, exploding bulldozers, a forest fire . . . and murder. But if she thinks things have settled down, she’s in for a surprise. A new school with new friends (and a few enemies), a lead role in a play, an encounter with a giant muskie, archaeological twists, secret tunnels, thin ice, and a strangely sticky murder are all coming her way in THE CLUE IN THE TREES.
Reading this book took me back to the days when I used to binge read Nancy Drew novels (a fact that would probably irritate Francie). I loved reading more about the small town of Walpurgis and getting to know Raven, Jay, and Francie’s brother, Theo.
The main focus of the story is solving a murder– one that Francie worries her brother has committed– but it touches on several other current social and environmental issues, such as the pipeline projects and their impact on the environment and indigenous people as well as poaching and smuggling, in an organic, non-intrusive way.
I really enjoyed the goofy characters and snappy dialogue in ENCHANTMENT LAKE, and A CLUE IN THE TREES delivered on this as well. Raven has a way of cutting straight to the heart of an issue, something that helps Francie focus and keeps her honest. We still get glimpses of Francie’s great aunts and a bit of their shenanigans, but a lot of the interaction comes from Francie, Raven, and Jay.
I enjoyed reading this book and following along to uncover the truth about who committed the murder. In some places, Francie’s search for information about her mom overshadows the mystery, but I didn’t mind that too much, as I’m pretty invested in the series at this point, so I’m hoping that’s a thread that will continue to unravel in the third book, THE SILVER BOX (which I’ll be reviewing soon, too).
I recommend starting with ENCHANTMENT LAKE. This is a separate mystery story, so you could follow the plot of this one just fine if you read it first, but I think it’s worth getting that introduction to Francie’s family and the town of Walpurgis. Otherwise you might feel overwhelmed with the number of character names mentioned in this one that are references to characters in the first book.
Recommended for Ages 10 up.
Francie’s best friend Raven is a Native American.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Francie is dating a boy who is away at college.
Francie discovers the body of a man who has been strangled.
Note: I received a free copy of A CLUE IN THE TREES in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.