Friday, June 7, 2013

Back Before Dark

Title: Back Before Dark Author: Tim Shoemaker Publisher: Zonderkidz Copyright Date: 2013
I love a good mystery. I love the braininess of a good detective. Why else do I get hung up on detective shows like Masterpiece Mystery, Sherlock Holmes, and Columbo?

Tim Shoemaker’s latest novel, Back Before Dark, and only his second lifetime work of fiction, is the first young-adult-based mystery I’ve read. I was a little skeptical of it because it starred four eighth-graders, but whatever. They didn’t end up being quite as intolerable as I thought.

Cooper MacKinnon, Hiroko “Hiro” Yakimoto, Gordon “Gordy” Digby, and Neal “Lunk” Lunquist are out riding their bikes in the park one evening when a kidnapper uses a backpack, cleverly strapped on top of a silver minivan, to lure one of the kids into warning him about it. Encouraged by a bet from Cooper and egged on by Hiro, Gordy flags down the van and ends up tasered and taken. The other three are left to try to find him.

Hiro’s sarcasm and “toughy” voice were annoying and sometimes overdone. The plot is your classic whodunit—only not murder. It’s a kidnapping. Maybe I’ve read enough whodunits to recognize leads and know the most likely killer (or kidnapper), but as soon as the villain was introduced in this story, I knew. And I only doubted myself a couple times. When the character was unveiled as the kidnapper, I smirked in victory. (Okay, sorry. Just had to throw that in there.) Shoemaker may have fed readers too many leads, but of course I didn’t figure out the whole mystery—just the most important part.

What bothered me most about the novel was probably the complete stupidity of Cooper (and Lunk). Sure, he’s dealing with guilt, but why would he try to plant evidence at a sex offender’s house to get the police to have a reason to search it? Why do other equally idiotic things? Stupid, stupid, stupid, Cooper. Okay, he’s only fourteen. But that’s inexcusable conduct. Maybe this wouldn’t have been so bad if the cops didn’t let him off on it and in the end treat him like he’s brilliant. Okay, just my thoughts.

Back Before Dark was interesting and suspenseful, but ultimately just under-par for its genre. Recommended for a younger age group—mature tweens and young teens.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. 

Compare this review with my original thoughts on the cover.


  1. Yes, eighth graders don't always have the greatest judgement. =P

  2. Every book has it's flaws, that's for sure! But I kinda like the sound of this one. Or maybe I just fell in love with the cover a few days ago. ;)


    1. The cover is rather nice, and very predictable ;) I don't know, I guess I was too hard on this one, since I really liked it other than Cooper's antics. Anyway.

    2. Predictable cover? LoL Why is that?
      Nope, didn't think you were too hard it all. Just sayin' what you thought.


    3. Whoops, I mean the cover made it easy to predict what was inside the book....

      I'm glad you didn't think I was too hard on it. Sometimes I can get a little too critical :( And I would feel bad if the author felt bad if he read my review.


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