Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage, 2018

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Pirates, family, and the truth about Mo's Upstream Mother collide in the conclusion to the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestselling Three Times Lucky

When the Colonel and Miss Lana share the clues about Mo's watery origins that they've been saving, it seems the time is finally right for the Desperado Detectives (aka Mo, Dale, and Harm) to tackle the mystery of Mo's Upstream Mother. It's the scariest case Mo's had by far. But before they can get started, Mayor Little's mean mother hires them to hunt in her attic for clues to Blackbeard's treasure, which could be buried right in Tupelo Landing. Turns out, the Desperados aren't the only ones looking. A professional treasure hunter named Gabe has come to town with Harm's estranged mother--and soon the race is on, even though the treasure's rumored to be cursed. As centuries- and decades-old secrets are dragged into the light, there isn't a single person in Tupelo Landing quite prepared for all that they uncover. Especially Mo.

The fourth and last book in the Mo & Dale Mystery series and the long-awaited conclusion to Three Times Lucky, The Law of Finders Keepers is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, honest, and hilarious adventure that you can read right after you finish Three Times Lucky.

(368 pages)

I have been such a huge fan of the Mo and Dale series for years, ever since I saw Sheila Turnage speak on a book panel while promoting Three Times Lucky and I went home and picked up a copy from the library. She was such a cool person in real life, and I still count myself lucky to have seen her before Three Times Lucky became really famous and won its Newberry Honor. And I'm still kicking myself for not buying a copy and getting her to sign it!

Anyway, all that is to say that I was very excited for the release of this final book in the Mo and Dale series.

Did it live up to my hopes? Yes and no.

In some ways, I was a bit disappointed with The Law of Finders Keepers. The "kids hunting for pirate treasure" storyline has never been my favorite, and I'm a bit sick of it. Plus I felt like things were a bit more rote this time, that some of the new characters weren't nearly as interesting as the older ones. Not to mention the storyline about Mo's search for her Upstream Mother. I liked how Turnage portrayed Mo's feelings, as well as the Colonel and Miss Lana's as the search heated up–but I felt like the big clue that fell into Mo's lap was a bit of a plot convenience, I thought the mechanics of the climax were kind of ridiculous, and I'm still not sure the story of Mo's mother is very satisfying for me. Plus the book gets into some darker stuff–a life-threatening experience with quicksand and Harm's troubled relationship with his mother, in particular–which made things feel a little more grounded than they have in the past.

There. I got the negative out of the way. Now I want to point at everything I said above . . . and say it doesn't matter. Because the truth is that even with all those iffy areas, I still adored the book. It's still a really, really fun and compelling read, full of off-the-wall characters and plot twists. In any other writer's hands, The Law of Finders Keepers would have been the cringey end to a series that went on too long; in Turnage's, it's a funny, grabbing romp. Even the areas that weren't as strong as the previous books really weren't that bad, and perhaps their "grounding" effect on an otherwise pretty flighty series was a good way to bring things to a close.

Honestly, I just love this series so much. Three Times Lucky will always be my favorite out of the four by far, but The Law of Finders Keepers is still a great read. I recommend it to anyone who's gotten this far in the series already (but don't you dare read this series out of order!).

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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