Suzanna Snow’s parents own a luxury hotel, the Rosemount, and are training Zanna in the family business. But Zanna wants to emulate her uncle, a celebrated detective, instead. When a little girl goes missing from the Rosemount, with Zanna the only witness to the kidnapping, her interest in sleuthing becomes more than theoretical. Trouble is, no one believes an eleven-year-old, not even her famous uncle…
The Midnight Tunnel is an engaging whodunit for middle-grade readers, starring a brave and resourceful heroine. As befits a book for — and about — a preteen, it’s pretty gentle in terms of the degree of bodily harm Angie Frazier inflicts upon the characters. The situations in the book are spooky, not gory. The mystery has just the right degree of complexity for the target audience. (Adult readers will probably overcomplicate it. I sure did. I imagined a big tangled solution involving secret parentage, and had to keep reminding myself it was a kids’ book and wouldn’t include the kinds of scandals I’m used to in adult and YA mysteries.)
What stands out most to an older reader is the issue of socioeconomic class. Like Frazier’s previous novel, the young adult Everlasting, The Midnight Tunnel features close relationships between young people of disparate class backgrounds. We’re dealing with friendships and possible crushes here, rather than Everlasting’s grand romance, but the theme is still present. Because of her youth and the fact that her parents assign her menial tasks as part of her training, Zanna identifies with the other young people who work as servants at the Rosemount. She faces cognitive dissonance when she sees that society treats these kids very differently than it treats her. None of this is delivered via sledgehammer, though, but flows organically with the story.
While Frazier seems to be setting Suzanna Snow up as a magic-free series, I believe it will be enjoyed by fans of R.L. LaFevers’ Theodosia Throckmorton series and vice versa. I wish there had been more books like this when I was a kid. I always enjoy following a bright heroine through a rich historical setting — especially if there’s a mystery involved too.