Reviews for Three Times Lucky

Booklist Reviews 2012 May #1
*Starred Review* Mysteries abound in this unusual book set in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, and narrated by Mo, or as she introduces herself, "Miss Moses LoBeau, rising sixth-grader." First there are old mysteries. What was Mo's story before Colonel LoBeau rescued her from the creek as a newborn and took her in? And who was the colonel before amnesia wiped away his memory? But soon the plot thickens and more alarming questions arise. Who has murdered one of Tupelo Landing's most unlikable residents? Who is holding Mo's unofficially adoptive parents for ransom? How can she and her friend Dale rescue them? While the pace of the narrative is initially languid, the storytelling is always enjoyable, from the amusing early scene in which Mo and Dale make breakfast for the regulars at the caf (peanut butter sandwiches with or without the "drink du jour," Mountain Dew) to her continuing attempts to find her birth mother through messages launched in bottles. Later the pace quickens considerably as the mystery gains momentum, climaxing in an epic scene during a hurricane. Turnage's lively novel features a distinctive voice and a community of idiosyncratic characters whose interlocking stories are gradually revealed. A sequel is planned for 2013. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2012 May
A Southern sleuth to warm hearts

In the town of Tupelo Landing (pop. 148) on the eastern shore of North Carolina, most residents have small wallets but big hearts—and even bigger mysteries. Perhaps the biggest heart and mystery belong to rising sixth grader Moses “Mo” LoBeau, who, as a baby, was sent downriver by her birth mother during a hurricane. Rescued and raised by the Colonel, after he crashed his car and lost all memory of his previous life, and his wife, Miss Lana, Mo has spent her young life trying to find out the identity of her “Upstream Mother.”

But when stingy Mr. Jesse turns up murdered, outsider Detective Joe Starr arrives in town and the Colonel goes missing, Mo has more important problems to worry about. In between serving up daily specials at Miss Lana’s cafÈ, she enlists her friend, Dale, to help her solve Mr. Jesse’s murder. And when Starr’s investigation leads to Dale as a prime suspect, Miss Lana is kidnapped and a rumor surfaces involving the Colonel and a missing suitcase full of money, Mo’s detective skills become a matter of life or death.

Readers will find many things to love about this charming debut novel, in which both the perils and rewards of small-town life shine through. Mo’s “soldier” relationship with the befuddled Colonel is both playful and endearing. She may never find her birth mother, but she realizes that she has all the family she’ll ever need. With quirky, lovable characters, spot-on dialogue and twists upon twists, this mystery takes on the best elements of Southern storytelling. Children will be at least three times lucky to read it.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
The center of rural Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, is a cafi owned by the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby. Completing their unconventional family is Miss Lana, the cafi's hostess. All is well--until a stranger comes to town. Humor sweetens the mix in this dandy, leisurely plotted mystery.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
All too often, books set in the rural South feature quirky characters who grow like kudzu and completely strangle the plot. Here, Turnage comes close to letting that happen but never steps over the literary vine; her strong story emerges through, rather than around, the individuals who reside in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. The town's center is a caf owned by the Colonel, an amnesiac who rescued and informally adopted Moses (a.k.a. Mo) LoBeau, who washed up during a hurricane when she was just a baby. The Colonel knows three things: he loves Mo, hates lawyers, and can run a caf. Completing their unconventional family is Miss Lana, the caf's hostess, who effortlessly changes the menu and theme (from Parisian to Hollywood) at will. And then a stranger comes to town. Mo knows what that means: "Trouble had come to Tupelo Landing for good." Turnage takes her time with the plot, dropping hints, such as a death and a strange inheritance, that indicate something big is about to happen. The end result is a dandy mystery that reaches back into the Colonel and Miss Lana's past and involves the entire community, including Mo's best friend, Dale; his dreamy brother, Lavender; and the Azalea Women (a.k.a. the Uptown Garden Club). Humor sweetens the mix, making Tupelo Landing a pleasant place to stay for a spell. betty carter

Kirkus Reviews 2012 April #2
What do you get when you combine Because of Winn-Dixie's heart with the mystery and action of Holes? You get an engaging, spirit-lifting and unforgettable debut for young readers. Turnage introduces readers to the homey yet exotic world of Tupelo Landing, N.C., well-populated with one-of-a-kind characters. A stranger with justice on his mind has just arrived in town, and Hurricane Amy is on its way. Rising sixth-grader Mo LoBeau leads the cast through a series of clues as the whole town tries to figure out who among them might be a murderer. The novel's opening lines reveal the unflappable Mo LoBeau as a latter-day Philip Marlowe: "Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt." This is the first of many genius turns of phrases. Pairing the heartbreaking sadness of children who don't get their fair share from parents with the hilarity of small-town life, Turnage achieves a wickedly awesome tale of an 11-year-old girl with more spirit and gumption than folks twice her age. Mo LoBeau is destined to become a standout character in children's fiction. Readers may find they never want to leave Tupelo Landing. (Mystery. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2012 November/December
Ever since 11-year-old Moses LoBeau washed ashore during a hurricane the night of her birth, she has lived in the small coastal town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, with an amnesiac, the Colonel, and an artistic caf hostess, Miss Lana. Mo's goal has been to find her Upstream Mother, but when a murder upsets life in Tupelo Landing, she and her best friend turn their detective skills toward finding the killer. When the Colonel and Miss Lana both disappear during a hurricane, Mo must save their lives, solve a string of connected crimes, and revive the Colonel's memory. Mo's spunk and quick humor will pull readers into this rollicking murder mystery, but the story's true strengths are its multifaceted characters and the author's skillful handling of themes like alcoholism, domestic abuse, and child abandonment. Tupelo Landing and its flawed but endearing residents will stay with readers long after they finish this well-crafted tale. Jenny MacKay, Children's Author, Sparks, Nevada [Ed tor's Note: Available in e-book format.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #2

Eleven years ago, Mo LoBeau arrived in Tupelo Landing, N.C., a newborn baby girl washed downstream during a hurricane and rescued by "the Colonel," a stranger who can't remember anything about his own past. Both are taken in by Miss Lana, owner of the Tupelo Cafe. Mo (short for Moses) loves the Colonel and Lana, but she can't curb her curiosity: isn't anybody missing a lucky newborn? Mo scratches this itch by sending messages in bottles to her "Upstream Mother." Into this implausible but hilarious premise arrives an out-of-town detective, a dead body (cafe customer Mr. Jesse), a long-forgotten bank robbery, and a kidnapping. This much plot might sink a story, but Turnage makes it work. Here is a writer who has never met a metaphor or simile she couldn't put to good use. Miss Lana's voice is "the color of sunlight in maple syrup," while "umors swirl around the Colonel like ink around an octopus." But it's Mo's wry humor that makes this first novel completely memorable. "Boredom kills," she suggests as Mr. Jesse's cause of death. "I've had close brushes myself, during math." Ages 10-up. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, the Knight Agency. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

Gr 4-7--Quick-thinking and precocious Mo LoBeau is hilarious in this modern-day mystery set in a small North Carolina town. The 11-year-old discovers the true meaning of family as she searches for her "upstream mother." As a baby, Mo was found washed ashore during a hurricane and has led a quiet life with the Colonel, a caf owner with a hidden past, and Miss Lana, the fun and colorful caf hostess. Then one day, this idyllic town is turned upside down by a murder investigation. The twists and turns in the plot will keep readers on their toes, and the humorous interactions between Mo and her quirky neighbors will keep them coming back for more. While the story is amusing and mysterious, the author also skillfully touches on tough issues such as alcoholism, spousal and child abuse, and underage drinking. The mood of the book stays light and keeps youngsters rooting for Mo in all of her adventurous endeavors, yet elicits empathy for the secondary characters as they endure and conquer challenging circumstances. While the overall theme is predictable, the solution to the mystery is not, and this book will leave readers hoping for more books about Mo and her gang.--Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

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VOYA Reviews 2012 August
Similar to her Biblical namesake, Moses LoBeau was discovered as a baby floating downstream following a hurricane. Eleven years later, she still searches for her "upstream mother" by launching messages in bottles on waterways near and far from her hometown of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Raised by the Colonel (who found her on the same day that he lost his own past to amnesia, thanks to a hurricane injury) and Miss Lana, Mo passes her days fishing with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, and serving an eccentric cast of local characters at her family restaurant. One day, a stubborn lawman arrives seeking clues in a big city murder. Soon after, the residents of Tupelo Landing must deal with a murder of their own, a kidnapping, and a deepening mystery about the origins of both Mo and the Colonel This debut novel features a vivid, multilayered story which will appeal to both skilled and reluctant readers of either gender. Elements of mystery, romance, secret identities, and long-unspoken small-town secrets blend into a literary stew that becomes compulsively readable as so many tales alternately unravel and combine. While the characters and plot at times plunge perilously close to being "over the top," the interactions between the townspeople are the heart and soul of the book and successfully redeem it from melodrama or stereotypes. This book is especially recommended for fans of Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick Press, 2000), of which it is very reminiscent in tone and characterization.--Sherrie Williams 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.