Mystery Box

When eighteen-year old Franklin W. Dixon’s brother Joe disappears during World War I, Frank heads for Europe to find him. A few years later, Carolyn Keene flees her own disturbed home. Both young people end up in 1920’s Paris, where glittering expatriates color the cafes and romance seems to float off the Seine.

Franklin W. Dixon, Carolyn Keene — why do these names sound familiar? They are listed as the authors of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, but who could they have been? What lives might have inspired them to create two brothers prepared for adventure and a reliable girl with a blue roadster?

In Gordon McAlpine’s marvelously inventive book, a stolen suitcase and an eccentric woman lure Frank into the parlor of Gertrude Stein, while Carolyn approaches F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway for advice on love and sentence structure. With the guidance of their friends, Carolyn and Frank piece together clues to their mysterious pasts. But in order to find themselves, they must first find each other — and the truths revealed in their soon-to-be written fictions.

It’s no wonder that Kirkus Reviews calls this imaginative book “gently moving… Philosophies of art and popular culture infuse the little tragedies of everyday life.”