HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Missing Head Mystery
Author: Carole Marsh
Publisher: Gallopade International, republished 1980
Related websites: http://www.carolemarshblog.com/childrens-mystery-books/ (author), http://www.gallopade.com/Default.aspx (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Marsh, Carole. The Missing Head Mystery (published in 1979 by Gallopade Publishing Group, 108 N. Pearl St., Rocky Mount, NC 27801). Michele and her younger brother Michael live in Raleigh, NC, with their mother who is a writer. While Mom is away doing research, Michele and Michael are to spend the summer in the old port town of Bath, NC, with Mom’s friend John and his two children Brian and Jo Dee. They expect to be bored. However, Michele wants to be an actress, and they learn that Bath has an outdoor drama based on the life of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate, who lived nearby. Maybe Michele can get a part in it. And maybe Michael can hunt for buried treasure. But then they find out that someone has stolen the elaborate and expensive false head of Blackbeard used in the play, and Mom says that the kids cannot go near the drama as long as there is any threat of crime.
Besides, without the head, the show might have to close. So Michele’s solution is to hunt for the missing head that the show might go on. Can the head be found or will the play be cancelled? Who stole it and why? And will Michele be able to get on stage? I have previously read and reviewed three other Carole Marsh mysteries, The Mystery at Disney World (#11), The Mystery at the Kentucky Derby (#15), and The Mystery in Chocolate Town: Hershey, Pennsylvania (#18). These are all part of the “Real Kids Real Places” Series in which Carole, as Mimi, and her grandchildren, Christina and Grant, solve various mysteries in different places. However, Marsh had written an earlier “Historic Albemarle Tour Mystery Series,” starring her own children, Michele and Michael, as characters, which apparently are now out of print. In fact, The Missing Head Mystery was her very first book.
There are a couple of common euphemisms, and one character likes to drink his beer. Also, Mom and Dad are divorced. However, the book weaves into the mystery plot a great deal of geographical information about the Bath area and a lot of historical background concerning Blackbeard. Unfortunately, the used copy which I picked up was missing chapters 12 through 14 and part of 15 (pp. 96-128), so I missed a little bit of the action but was still able to follow the plot all right. David Brock, age 12, said, “The best mystery I’ve ever read!” I might not go that far, but it is pretty good. The next book in this earlier series is entitled The Secret of Somerset Place. The Gallopade website is currently announcing book #51 in the Real Kids, Real Places Series entitled The Mystery at Hilton Head Island. There are also 14 International Mysteries now available in which Christina and Grant take their adventures around the world.