Mo LoBeau, rising sixth grader in the tiny town of Tupelo Landing, turns detective when a local man turns up murdered. Mo and her best friend Dale figure they can locate the killer before that nosy outsider detective has time to finish his lunch at the café. After all, Mo already has experience searching for things, most particularly her “Upstream Mother” who set Mo on a raft and sent her down the river to the Colonel and Miss Lana as a baby. Mo and Dale follow clue after clue in the murder investigation, even as a hurricane barrels toward them. When Mo’s guardians disappear, she realizes she must find the killer before he adds the people she loves most to his body count.
I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for a ridiculously long time, and I’m only sorry I didn’t read it sooner. I absolutely loved it. Three Times Lucky is all the things you want in a Southern Story: interesting food, quirky characters, an adorable small town, and an unforgettable narrator. I loved the entire cast of characters. The mystery unraveled at a perfect pace. The story was equal parts humor and heart. The setting felt like a place you would recognize the minute you stepped out of your car.
This is a perfect read for middle or late elementary-aged readers. It would make a great story to read aloud or listen to on a family vacation. Definitely a must-read and one of my favorites this year.
Tupelo Landing, the setting of the story, is a small very Southern town peppered with quirky Southern people. The cast reminded me a little bit of the townspeople in To Kill a Mockingbird or Lucky Strikes.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
None. Mo does note that Dale swears, and comments that the way things are going, she might start anytime, but no curse words are printed in the story.
Mo adores Dale’s older brother Lavender and teases him about marrying her someday. He and his buddy spend some time with twin girls, but Dale and Mo seem pretty oblivious to anything that really happens between them.
The local pastor agrees to hold a funeral at the church for a man even though he never attended services there. Brief references to prayer.
Mo writes letters to her Upstream Mother—the woman she believes gave birth to her and then set her on a raft and placed her in the river, where the Colonel later found her.
When Dale’s father gets drunk, he gets violent, and hits Dale and his mother. Mo knows about it because she sees the fallout, but she doesn’t witness it happen. At one point she does witness Dale’s dad threatening to hurt him.
Mo stumbles onto a murder weapon (the victim died of blunt force trauma.) Later, as they search for a kidnapping victim, Mo and Dale discover a bloody handprint.
Dale’s dad gets drunk on multiple occasions. At one point Mo and Dale see him driving and worry that he may be driving drunk.