BooksEndependent, 2013. 978-0988768727
2014 Jessie Redmon Fauset Award Finalist
Synopsis: Set in Chicago in the 1960s, Katrin’s Chronicles details the mystery solving adventures of Katrin and her older sister J. Dyanne, whose mysterious gifts allow her to see and perceive things others cannot. Told by their Grand Anne to write their history, Katrin sets out to demystify the circumstances under which J. Dyanne is able to uncover the culprit in a case of political corruption that gives the girls an almost celebrity status on the South Side.
Why I picked it up: I was asked to review the book as part of a book blog tour and I gladly accepted.
Why I finished it: This book is a delightful blend of high mystery and southern gothic, combining Holmesian deductive prowess with the supernatural beliefs of tarot, voodoo, and psychic readings. Woods sets the tone for the book by providing the reader with a picture of a close knit family that fights for each other and looks out for each other. There are two older siblings that are also in the mix, but they don’t play much of a role in the story. Katrin, much like Dr. Watson, hopes to one day become a doctor, and her chronicle is littered with her Latin practice, an element that helps to develop her character. Though the book is just as much about J. Dyanne as Katrin, J.Dyanne still remains a somewhat mysterious personage. She is possessed with a powerful gift of observation and the ability to see into the beyond, which becomes a valuable tool to aid in the recovery of lost animals, lost persons, and lost objects. J. Dyanne is seen as a witch and a seer, but neither of those assertions by her peers and neighbors seem to fit with what truly goes on behind the scenes. I loved that there was a historical element to the story as well: the 1960s was a period of racial and political unrest in this country, and in some cases exacerbated by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to which Katrin makes reference. These outside events also have an impact on the characters, causing them to think outside themselves and ponder how they fit into the bigger picture. This book is a must for fans of Sherlock Holmes or even just a good mystery that keeps you guessing until the last pages.
Other related materials: Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud; Lockwood & Co.: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud; The Vengekeep Prophecies books by Brian Farrey, illustrations by Brett Helquist; W.A.R.P., Book 1: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer; The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, illustrations by Ben McSweeny, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage; The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage; Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee; The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jim Tierney; The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier; The Riverman by Aaron Starmer; Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson