HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Aunt Dimity Down Under: Aunt Dimity Mystery #15
Author: Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Penguin Books, reprinted in 2011
ISBN-13: 978-067002144X Hardcover
ISBN-10: 067002144X Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0143118657 Paperback
ISBN-10: 014311865X Paperback
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Older teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Atherton, Nancy. Aunt Dimity Down Under: Aunt Dimity Mystery #15 (published in 2010 by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Lori Shepherd and her husband Bill Willis, who runs the European branch of his family’s venerable Boston law firm, are Americans who live with their six year old twins, Will and Rob, in a honey-colored stone cottage amid the rolling hills and patchwork fields of the Cotswolds, a rural region in England’s West Midlands, outside the village of Finch near the market town of Upper Deeping. Her newly retired father-in-law, William Willis Sr., is visiting and trying to decide whether to remain in England or return to the States. Lori’s neighbors, the elderly twins Ruth and Louise Pym, are seriously ill, and they ask Lori, who has apparently developed quite a reputation as a detective in fourteen previous adventures, to “find Aubrey” before they die.
From the Pyms’ solicitor, Fortescue Makepeace, Lori learns that Ruth and Louise had a brother, Aubrey who was somewhat of a black sheep and left for New Zealand. It is known that he was killed in World War II, but left a son Aubrey Jr. Thus Lori sets out for the distant land and finds out that both Aubrey Jr. and his son Ed have both recently died, but Ed has an eighteen year old daughter, also named Aubrey but known as Bree. However, she has left home. So with the help of Cameron Mackenzie, a New Zealander friend of her husband’s from college whose life Bill had once saved, Lori traipses all over New Zealand in search of Bree. Will she ever find the girl? If she does, how will Bree react to Lori’s news? And what did Bill do to save Cameron’s life? This is basically a nice mystery story, though it is not for small children. While no specific instances are recorded, there are general references to womanizing, sleeping around, and shacking up, even using the word “bonking.”
Also, several instances of drinking various alcoholic beverages occur, and besides a few common euphemisms (heck, darn, gosh) Lori uses the “d” word once. But the biggest fly in the ointment for some would probably be Aunt Dimity. And who, one might ask, is Aunt Dimity? She is a now deceased old friend of Lori’s mother with whom Lori communicates by talking into a curious blue-leather-bound journal and reading the words that are written in the diary by Dimity. To be honest, this is not presented in an occultic or black-magic way, but the term “paranormal” is used of the series. Those who are able to deal with the necessary suspension of belief required to accept the premise of the plot will find an otherwise enjoyable and exciting romp. The book reads like a Fodor’s Travel Guide for New Zealand, and this may appeal to some. Other books in the series, beginning with Aunt Dimity’s Death (1992), include Aunt Dimity Goes West (2007), Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter (2008), and Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon (2009). The ending of Aunt Dimity Down Under has a nice lead into the next book, Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, where Lori’s now retired father-in-law moves to town and is renovating the Fairworth House.