Four meddling kids and their dog chasing down clues in a mysterious mansion at first might sound like the stuff of Saturday morning cartoons, but in Jennifer Susan-Leone James remarkably sure- footed debut novel, “The Mystery of Ravenswood,” the concept is transformed into fresh and exciting storytelling. Told in the form of a journal written by an intelligent and resourceful twelve-year-old named Jennifer Rand, to her mother (who is mysteriously in absentia and declared dead), “The Mystery of Ravenswood” chronicles the adventures of four young emotional orphans as they set out to exonerate a man unjustly accused of robbing the wealthy mistress of the castle-like Ravenswood estate.  In the process this quartet, aided by Jennifer’s loving grandfather and her pet dog, wryly named Nancydrew, get a lot more than they bargained for as they stumble onto a much deadlier game secreted in the shadows of the vast mansion. James’ deft talent for characterization brings each of the four young protagonists to life and renders them with sometimes heart-wrenching human complexity.  Jen and her compatriots Max, Charlie and Frankie don’t simply move around, they live and breathe.  At the same time James never lets the pacing lag, adding twist after twist to a plot that always maintains logic and believability as it gallops toward a conclusion that resolves every question and delivers the final surprise in absolutely breathtaking fashion.   The Mystery of Ravenswood is a wonderfully compelling, refreshingly old-fashioned (i.e., literate), well-crafted mystery that successfully combines Bradbury-esque echoes of the wonderment of childhood along with a grittier sense of realism.  The fact that this is Jennifer Susan-Leone James’ first novel makes me, for one, quite jealous.  -Michael Mallory, author of Murder in the Bath, an “Amelia Watson” mystery.     reviews: Illustration by Julius Mann HOME PAGE     PROLOGUE     BIOGRAPHY     SYNOPSIS      CHAPTER THIRTEEN     REVIEWS ©2018 Jennifer James VOICE OVERS KID’S READING ROOM Contact Jennifer James at: