HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Hooks Files: Murder, Arson, Robbery, Amnesia
Author: Paul Boyce
Cover Designer: Blake Brasor
Publisher: Tate Publishing, 2012
Related website: http://www.tatepublishing.com (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 10-14
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Boyce, Paul. The Hooks Files: Murder, Arson, Robbery, Amnesia (published in 2012 by Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC, 127 E. Trade Center Terr., Mustang, OK 73064). As the book opens, William Coupes is sitting in a coffee shop with his fourteen year old grandson Jeff, waiting for Jeff’s father to pick them up. To pass the time away, Mr. Coupes tells Jeff stories from his childhood. It is the summer of 1936, and eleven year old Billy Coupes, who lives in Zenith, PA, a small town west of Pittsburgh, with his father Jason, a builder, and his mother Annie, a homemaker, has just finished sixth grade in the local two room school. His cousin Jessica Sinclair, also eleven, who lives in Pittsburgh, is coming to spend the summer with the Coupes family.
The two youngsters help their friend Elias Hooks, a retired civil engineer and the local coroner, to solve several mysteries. Who murdered well-liked farm woman Esther McPherson, and what happened to her husband Lloyd? How did the Parker Saloon catch fire? Where did the young man, “David,” who got off a train in Zenith and has amnesia, come from? And why is there a human skeleton buried in Millie Doggett’s pig pen where Billy’s dad is building an addition on her barn? Author Paul Boyce, a retired aerospace engineer, was looking for wholesome books to give teenagers, but all he could find were wild tales of vampires, witches, and young people with supernatural abilities. So he decided to write stories about life the way regular folks lived it, where people believe that honesty is the best policy, neighbors care for one another, parents spend time with their children, and children like being part of a family.
A few common euphemisms (dang it, heck, darn) occur, but no cursing or profanity is found. There are a couple of references to folks who drink alcohol, but it is definitely not encouraged. Elias rolls and smokes cigarettes, but Jessica tells him that tobacco is bad for him, and he agrees. At the same time, positive mention is made of church going and prayer. With its danger, questions of ethics, attention to authentic detail of life before technology, and even humor, I had a hard time putting The Hooks Files down and found it refreshing, and even instructional, to read about the simpler way of life in the 1930s. Both young and adult readers will be entertained by these cases which will keep them interested right up to the end. There are two sequels, The Hooks Files II and The Hooks Files III, and Boyce is working on a fourth.