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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Name of the Game Was Murder by J.L. Nixon

Nixon, J.L. (1993). The Name of the Game Was Murder. Lourel-Leaf Books: New York.
Awards: Edgar Allan Poe Award, 1994
    Nevada Young Readers' Award, 1996
    Arizona Young Readers Award, 1997
    Maryland Library Association Black-Eyed Susan Award, 1997
Annotation: In this Mystery novel, fifteen year old Samantha Burns wants to desperately to become a famous writer like her great uncle famous novelist Augustus Trevor

Book Talk: Samantha asks to visit her Great Aunt Thea on the island of Catalina twenty miles off the coast of California. When she meets her Great Uncle Augustus, to ask him to read her stories to see if she has any talent as a writer, she finds him to be rude and obnoxious. Great Uncle Augustus tells her she will be in his way for the game he has planned to play with a few of his celebrity friends.

   Augustus was silent for a moment, and when he spoke again it was with a smile. “My current manuscript is not another novel.  It is a book in which I intend to make public certain shocking behind-the-scenes behavior of a great many very important people.
   Julia stiffened, and it was obvious that she couldn’t keep silent, no matter how offended Augustus might be. “Are you telling us that we’re included?” she asked
  Augustus grinned nastily. “Yes and no,” he said.
   “What is that supposed to mean?’ Buck demanded.
   “It means that while doing background research and interviews, in an attempt to supplement my notes and refresh my memory, I stumbled upon a well-hidden secret I the past life of each one of you.”
    “Ridiculous!” Senator Maggio snapped.
    “Oh, is it?” Augustus asked, and his eyes gleamed. “If these secrets are made known, they’ll be damaging enough to ruin your reputations, aside from other complications that might result.”
   “This is absurd,” Alex interjected, bu Augustus dismissed him with a wave of his hand and went on.
   “Each of you committed on very stupid mistake in your past, yet the mistakes were never made public. Was this because you were actually smart enough to cover them, or because you were incredibly lucky?”
   “Augustus, I protest!” Aunt Thea said. “You’re embarrassing our guests, and—“
   “Sit down, Thea,” Augustus ordered, and she did.
   “You are highly successful in your careers,” he continued, “and normally that takes a certain amount of intelligence. So what is the truth? Are you stupid, or are you not? I’m going to find out. During the weekend we’re going to play a game, and you’ll be given clues to solve. The clues will lead to a significant treasure—a treasure that in itself will be self-explanatory.”
   “If you can solve the clues, then you’ll prove to me that your stupid mistakes can remain secret, and I’ll remove every trace of your stories from my manuscript. For those who can’t solve the clues, the world will soon learn the shocking facts from your past.”

But Augustus was murdered and the game must continue in order to find the manuscript and the murderer. Can Samantha figure out the clues and find the manuscript in order to discover who the murderer is?  When Augustus set up his game, “He never had a clue that the name of the game was murder.”
Cover Illustration copywrite by Tim Burrall

Matt, age 16: Why do you like Mystery Novels? I like to answer and solve the mystery before the characters do.