Fifteen-year-old Mike McGill has lived with his Uncle Billy since his mother's death. Only ten years older than Mike, Billy loves to party, and he doesn't pay much attention when Mike starts getting in trouble. But nothing gets by Mike's history teacher, an ex-cop named Riel—especially not long-hidden information about Mike's mother. Her death might not have been an accident after all!
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"It has been three years since fifteen-year-old Mike McGill's mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver; three years that Mike has been living with his uncle Billy, who is just ten years older than Mike. Billy likes to party, is not keen on parenting, and often forgets to buy food, but he is family, and he cares about Mike. Mike is a pretty good kid, helping out neighbors like Mrs. Jhun, whose husband was killed in a robbery shortly before Mike's mother died. Mike has a habit of being in places where trouble happens, however, and getting nabbed, whether he is involved or not. It is good that his history teacher, Mr. Riel, is paying close attention, and even better that Riel is a former police detective. In fact, Riel is the officer who investigated Mike's mother's death. When Riel gets Mike talking, it turns out he is good at solving cases, whether they are three-year-old murders, or the recent beating murder of one of Mike's classmates.
While avoiding graphic crime scene details, these new-to-the-US murder mysteries do not skirt the rudderless realities of growing up without a parent or the painstaking fact-finding of police work. Rather, they bring the two together in a gritty first-person narrative that is both nuanced and complex. The main characters have depth and complexity, which adds to the uncertainties as events (some of them harsh) develop. Motives and involvement unfold in the gradually quickening plot. Mike & Riel will appeal to readers who enjoy realistic fiction as well as mystery buffs." —VOYA —Journal
"In this book, Mike McGill, orphaned at 11 when his mother is killed in a hit-and-run accident, is now 15. Mike meets his new history teacher, John Riel, a former homicide detective. The two begin to cooperate and discover that Mike's mother was actually murdered. By the end of first title in the series, Riel is Mike's foster parent. As Mike, going through the usual teen-age angst, and Riel develop their relationship, they continue to solve mysteries. The engaging plots unfold from Mike's viewpoint. As one of the rare cases of a foster child serving as protagonist, the series, written by Norah McClintock, can also serve as a basis for discussing what it means to lose a parent." —Library Media Connection—Journal
"Bad seed wars with good in an orphaned teenager who finds out that his mother's death wasn't an accident.
Originally published a decade ago in Canada, this series opener set in Toronto hooks Michael—a troubled teen surrounded by poor companions and role models—up with his history teacher, quiet ex-cop John Riel. Four years after the loss of his loving, hardworking mother, Mike's life seems to be going down the tubes thanks to failing grades, a breakup with his girlfriend and sudden unemployment following an arrest for a minor theft. The electrifying discovery that his new teacher had been in charge of his mom's never-solved case, though, leads to new questions and clues that implicate both the uncle who is his sole remaining family member and a pair of shady associates. It also leads to an initially hostile but growing mutual attachment that culminates, following a second sudden death and nearly a third, in Mike gaining a steady new foster father. Look for more role modeling and crime solving in two sequels that publish simultaneously: Truth and Lies and Dead and Gone.
The rescue of an at-risk adolescent with light and dark sides takes center stage, but the unfolding mystery adds a dramatic subplot." —Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Mike was 11 when his mother was killed in a hit-and-run. Now 15, he lives with his uncle Billy, a hard-partying mechanic who is more older brother than guardian. Upon discovering that his new history teacher, Mr. Riel, is not only a retired cop but also one of the investigators who worked on his mom's case, Mike badgers Riel into reopening the case, a decision with far-reaching consequences. This first entry in the Mike & Riel Mysteries series, originally published in Canada a decade ago, includes some dead technology references (VHS tapes, portable phones) that date the story. That aside, this well-crafted mystery is a real page-turner with plenty of twists and a hero kids can get behind. Mike's unacknowledged despair and his determination to uncover the truth make him a very appealing hero. Marketed for reluctant readers, mystery fans of all sorts will be glad to find out there are four more titles to come."—Booklist—Journal
Norah McClintock won the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for crime fiction for young people five times. She wrote more than sixty YA novels, including contributions to Seven (the series), the Seven Sequels and the Secrets series.