Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Middle Grade Mystery Soars!


The Case of the Crying Signpost

By Tom Xavier

Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy in exchange for an honest review.

You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you?

What’s a city girl from Chicago doing locked in a high tower prison in a creepy old house in 1930s New Orleans? How did she get there, and why? These questions and more swirl throughout Tom Xavier’s utterly absorbing mystery, The Case of the Crying Signpost.

The Basics

Twelve-year-old Nelly Melcham hates to admit it. But it’s true. She’s afraid of flying, even though her mother is a world-famous aviator. Nelly’s en route to Puerto Rico to visit her dad when her plans take a dramatic U-turn. Nelly winds up in Louisiana with Tim Morcombe, “Indetectable sleuth” and “one of a kind in the Detection Profession.”

Tim and Nelly are soon heading to New Orleans to solve a mysterious missing persons case. It involves the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of one Millicent “Millie” Hastings MacLaren. It soon becomes apparent that evil things are brewing in The Big Easy. It seems the Hastings family built “their prideful home” over the place of the dead. Not a smart move. Now they’re being punished, one by one. Is Millie MacLaren the latest victim? Has Millie been cursed by the ghosts, as “voodoo priestess” Madame Bellio insists, “her body carried away on the winds”?

‘Wild Ghost Chase’

Nelly and Tim are soon up to their chins in a “wild ghost chase” as they look for clues and try to solve the case and find Mille MacLaren and her brother, Gray Hastings.

When a storm comes up, it’s said that the ghost of Millie MacLaren can be heard crying on the wind. The plot thickens when Tim and Nelly head out to investigate. Nelly soon overhears Madame Bellio utter some strange Cajun words about… ? (Oh, wait. You’ll have to read the book to get that.) But Nelly is discovered. She’s locked in a tower “in a house guarded by ghosts.”

It gets even more interesting in a creepy, shivery, spine-tingly kind of way in this lightning-quick, expertly paced blend of mystery and history. Can Nelly and Tim solve the case and find Millie before it’s too late?

A Little of This…

The Case of the Crying Signpost is a little Nancy Drew. A little Tom Thumb. Add a pint-sized Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot and you have a world-class private detective named Tim Morcombe, scene stealer par excellence.

Tour de Force

Told in the first person, this finely crafted work is a tour de force of supreme storytelling skill. Strong writing fuels a dynamic plot that has more twists than The Cyclone at Coney Island. It’s masterful. Several “light bulb” moments of the Aha! variety are turned on throughout this gripping read.

Meanwhile, the author offers just enough clues to keep you guessing and turning pages. And what’s that about… gold? Tunnels and runaway slaves? There’s also Revenge. Betrayal. Double-crosses. Blackmail. Cousins. (Yes, cousins.) And What’s. That. Awful. Smell?

Middle grade audiences and anyone who loves a riveting story packed with action and adventure will enjoy The Case of the Crying Signpost. I couldn’t put it down!

Our Rating: 4.5

4 thoughts on “Middle Grade Mystery Soars!

  1. Wonderful review! I like an exciting ghost chase

    • Thanks Wendy! This book surprised us. It’s a terrific blend of mystery and history. Never heard of this author before. But you can bet we’ll be looking for more from this guy!

  2. Thanks for the review. This sounds like a very interesting mystery!

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