Monday, November 16, 2015

The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage, 2015

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The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale's daddy--confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale's nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn't mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction--if everything goes as expected.
Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon's on the run, Tupelo Landing's in lockdown, and Dale's brother's life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client--one they'd never want in a million years.
For everyone who's already fallen for Mo and Dale, and for anyone who's new to Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even is a heartwarming story that perfectly blends mystery and action with more serious themes about family and fathers, all without ever losing its sense of humor.

(352 pages)

I've been absolutely in love with the Tupelo Landing books since I first read the amazing Three Times Lucky. I adore Turnage's writing style, and will happily lap up any and all Mo and Dale books she ever sees fit to write. In the past two books (my review of the second Mo and Dale book, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landingshe hit that perfect tone that mixes silly humor with serious themes (such as abandonment, love, family, and friendship). The Odds of Getting Even finds that same sweet spot yet again, mixing the serious with the fun in that delightfully off-the-handle manner no one can master like Sheila Turnage.

Mo is as delightful as ever in this latest installment of the series, and Dale just as loveable. We explore a little further into his family with every book, and with this one we see him struggling to cope with his father's criminal ways - which in this case, seem actually calculated to hurt Dale and his mother. Dale does his best to step up and be a man through everything that's happened. He does a rather remarkable job of it, too, considering the way so many people in the town turn against him.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, though, but there was something slightly lacking in The Odds of Getting Even. I still loved it, but I just wasn't laughing quite as often or quite as loudly as I was with the first two books. Perhaps the novelty is just wearing off? I sure hope that's not it, because I'd hate to become deadened to Sheila Turnage's wonderful humor! No, I think I'll blame it on the book and say that it's just "third book fever" (which I just made up - I don't think that's really a thing) and the next book will be funnier again. But then, when I say that The Odds of Getting Even was a little less funny than its prequels or that I hope Turnage's next book is funnier, please don't think that means this isn't a good book. It's a great book. It's a wonderful book. It's a fantastic, need-to-read-it-again finger-licking good read. I'm just so incredibly spoiled by the first two Mo and Dale books that my standards for Sheila Turnage's books are just about impossibly high.

I really liked Lavender's development in this book, as he struggles to deal with the constant backlash coming from his father's less-than-honest behavior (because no one wants to get their car fixed by the son of a runaway criminal - no one besides his actual friends, that is, and most of them aren't old enough to drive). Lavender gets understandably upset and begins to struggle to stay strong while the whole world seems to be against him.

There's also a hilarious side-plot with Dale's dog Queen Elizabeth, who is expecting puppies. The Desperadoes have an elaborate application process for doling out the expected darlings, which is also incredibly skewed as they keep promising out puppies in return for favors in the course of their investigations. Dale is absolutely determined to give the puppies to the best homes possible - more particularly, to kids who will name the puppies after famous monarchs. Honestly, you have to read it to understand just how silly and cute it really is.

I think that just about sums up all three Mo and Dale books: you have to read them for yourself to understand how silly, cute, and just plum hilarious they are. So go, read this series. Just start with the first book, Three Times Lucky (and let's be honest: if you've read either of the first two books, you're already going to read The Odds of Getting Even, no matter what I say here - it's impossible to be satisfied with reading just one Mo and Dale novel).

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