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The Mystery of the Emeralds: Trixie Belden #14    by Kathryn Kenny order for
Mystery of the Emeralds
by Kathryn Kenny
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Fans of old can introduce new fans to Trixie Belden, the 'wanna-be-detective'. The sleuth has her own inimitable detecting style - as brother Brian says, 'You know she's never happy unless she has some puzzle cooking.' Brothers Mart and little Bobby agree with that statement! Trixie's next mystery doesn't take long to develop. While helping Moms clean the attic, Trixie accidentally knocks a loose board from the wall, which opens into a crawl space. Inside she finds an old canteen, and articles of clothing. As she picks up a worn-out pair of trousers, an envelope stamped with a wax seal falls out of a pocket.

The Belden family live in the town of Sleepyside in a six-generation home named Crabapple Farm (the original series author, Julie Campbell was born in June 1908, and Sleepyside was based on the area where she lived, in the Hudson River Valley). Trixie's best friend Honey Wheeler lives just down the road with her parents and brother Jim. Members of their secret-club, the Bob-Whites, include Trixie, Honey, Jim, Brian, Diana, and Mart. An immediate meeting is called to dig into the mystery of the old letter. It is addressed to 'Miss Helen Sunderland, the Homestead, Croton-on-Hudson', and dates back to the time of the Civil War. It says, 'Dearest Sister ... I have put directions for locating the 'cursed' emerald necklace in the place where we spent the last afternoon you were here.'

Library research, plus information from parents, indicate that Sleepyside was once part of the Underground Railroad, that transported slaves to safety. In the telephone directory they find a Julie Sunderland living in nearby Croton. Ninety-year old Sunderland welcomes her visitors, and Trixie and Honey read the letter to her. She lends them old family diaries, dating back to the War. Julie has a boarder, a young man named Neil, of whom Trixie and Honey are suspicious. Diary clues lead to Williamsburg, Virginia, and an old plantation house, Rosewood Hall in Cliveden, owned by the Sunderland family during the Civil War.

The sleuths have a problem financing the travel needed for their investigation. Luckily, Diana's parents offer to take all the Bob-Whites along on a trip to Washington and Williamsburg. At a restaurant's gas pumps, Trixie spots Neil, and the mystery becomes even more complex with the entrance of a man named Mr. Jenkins!

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