by michael dahl
silly me. the fact that finnegan zwake, protagonist of the ruby raven, is a teenaged boy who lives with his mystery writing uncle, should have tipped me off to the fact that it's a young adult novel. which fact i didn't pick up on until i did some additional research on the series, which apparently numbers five volumes.
if i'd known this in advance, quite honestly, i might not have picked it up. but since i was already part of the way through i was sufficiently absorbed in the story to keep going. it's a tale that finds zwake and uncle stoppard headed to occo (a country that's supposedly located near morocco) for the ruby raven ceremony. this is a prestigious and lucrative prize for mystery writers, who have to be present to actually win the million smackers.
the rest of the nominees also get to split a million dollars and so when some of the nominees start winding up rather dead-ish the assumption is that someone is covering their bases and trying to insure that they get a bigger slice of the pie. but things get a little more complex as the story progresses and there are some reasonably interesting - if perhaps a bit farfetched - twists and turns along the way.
a rather exotic location and plenty of humor, if you like that sort of thing, but if you're looking for a mystery of the sort where you can deduce who's doing all the killing by the clues provided you're pretty much out of luck. unless i had a whopping mental lapse at some point along the way, i can't recall the killer even being mentioned before the end. but it's a pretty entertaining yarn all the same, enough so that i'm going to drop by my local library and pick up another book in the series.