Abrahams, Peter. Down the Rabbit Hole. New York: Harper Trophy, 2005. Print. ISBN 9780060737030
Down the Rabbit Hole is not only the first Echo Falls mystery, but also Abrahams’ first young adult novel. The main character is Ingrid, a plucky eighth-grader who at the beginning of the novel has two problems, she has braces and she doesn’t want to be late to soccer practice. These slowly snowball throughout the novel (a lot of new problems, though the braces become more of a minor annoyance).
Ingrid’s hero is Sherlock Holmes and she constantly strives to think like him by noticing the small things and knowing her small town. However, unlike Sherlock (who usually had some form of backup) Ingrid sets about to solve the town’s murder mystery on her own when she realizes just how deep she inadvertently delved into the case. The cast of characters is certainly distinct, including Ingrid’s brother Ty (according to Ingrid her parents only had one good name in them),her grandfather Grampy (who has some interesting views on driving and environmentalism), and Nigel the unexpected canine addition to the family.
However, while the mystery does build throughout the book , the overall book doesn’t feel like a cohesive story. There are certain aspects that the book focuses on briefly but intensely (the mysterious appearance of acne on Ty’s back when he has never had a problem with acne and Ingrid’s miraculous [albeit occasional] ability to do difficult math problems only when thinking about unrelated things are two examples). These appear to be important, and perhaps they will be in the other Echo Falls mysteries, but in this book the break the suspense of the mystery and make the reader lose interest in what should be the driving force, Ingrid solving the murder mystery.
This book would be good for those middle-schoolers looking for a casual mystery or those just entering the genre. While older readers may understand her father’s push for college (and the irony of the adults), most of the things that happen to Ingrid are basic. While everything Ingrid does seems to be connected (and everything that happens to Ingrid is connected) they seem to happen in an isolated bubble where things only happen to Ingrid. There is apparently only one taxi in town. Despite the fact that Ingrid is the reason her soccer team wears red sparkly cleats, no one seems to know she owns a pair. In fact, the whole novel reads a bit like the town is in stasis until Ingrid walks into a part of it.
Agatha Award -2005
Booklist Editor’s Choice Books for Youth-2005
Booklist—“Abrahams is concerned with adult motivations here, and his irony occasionally seems too arch for kids. But there’s also plenty of excitement and just-right humor (Mom’s constant concern about Ingrid’s retainer is classic)”
Kirkus—“As the police investigation gets further away from the truth and the wrong suspects are arrested, Ingrid takes increasingly daring risks to solve the case herself and eliminate the evidence she left behind indicating her own suspicious involvement. Abrahams has crafted a suspenseful page-turning drama complete with misleading clues and gutsy midnight escapades that make for thrilling intrigue.”
Kirkus. Kirkus Reviews. April 2005. (Vol. 73, No. 7) Electronic. Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=5&isbn=0060737026.
Zvirin, Stephanie. Booklist. May 2005. (Vol. 101, No. 17) Electronic. Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=5&isbn=0060737026