Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mill Creek #7 House by the River and #8 Watcher on the Heights

In the Mill Creek Irregulars #7, The House by the River, Sim wants to go on a canoe trip down the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi.  Steve turns the tables on Sim by acting like he won't be able to go.  Sim has to manipulate Steve into going on the trip, or so he thinks.

Once the boys reach Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi, they spot an old house on the shore of the river.  The house appears to be empty, but the cellar is unlocked.  Steve insists on exploring, against Sim's better judgment.  As always, Steve's impulse uncovers a mystery and gets the boys into trouble.

I really like the cover art for this book.  A house by a river is guaranteed to provide a great mystery.

This is an excellent book. 

In the Mill Creek Irregulars #8, The Watcher on the Heights, Steve convinces Sim to explore the Wisconsin Heights.  While exploring, the boys find evidence that a man is spending time watching another man fish.  They soon realize that the watcher is planning to kill the fisherman.

This is just an outstanding story from start to finish.  I can't really get into why without spoiling it; you just have to read it to understand why.  The book gets deep into discussions of what justice really is, and how justice might be served differently from what one expects.  There's no clear cut answer.

The climax of this book is so funny.  I ended up reading that part slowly, because I kept laughing uncontrollably, and one can't keep reading while laughing hard.

Derleth's descriptions are so wonderful.  From page 113:
The June sunlight slanted into the harness shop from low in the west at this hour, filling it with mellow warmth.  Both doors were open, and a fragrant wind came in at the front, pungent with the musk of the river, and drifted through the shop and out the back, carrying along with it the smell of leather and of the oil dip, and the dusty binder aprons which hand been brought into the shop for repairs.
While reading this book, I finally determined that this series most reminds me of the Brains Benton books by Charles Morgan, III, and the Roger Baxter series. 

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