Nic's Reviews > The Name of the Game Was Murder

The Name of the Game Was Murder by Joan Lowery Nixon
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's review
Mar 01, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: ya-lit-class-spring-2010
Read in March, 2010 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** What a silly, silly book! Epically ‘90s and cheesy. I read a zillion books like this when I was, like, twelve.

As a kid, I probably would have liked this in a non-ironic way, as opposed to the laughing way that I kind of enjoyed it now. We have an intrepid fifteen-year-old heroine who wants to be a writer and in the meantime can recognize the Shah of Iran in a photo and barely flinch at the murdered body of her great-uncle. What do these eclectic characteristics have in common? They all make Sam the perfect protagonist to solve this rather silly mystery.

It’s pretty funny how easily the characters narrow the suspects to the wrong set of people. (And they don’t even consider the possibility, however remote, that this could have been an outside job.) Even though one character jokes about the old “the butler did it” cliché, it doesn’t occur to anyone (except, um, the reader) that the help could have played a role in Mr. Trevor’s murder.

The emotional content of the book was very low. Not to say I expected Sam to mourn, but I didn’t feel a lot of fear there, either, really. Her most intensely-portrayed emotions are in the scene after she realizes where the manuscript is, when she’s trying to hide her excitement. I didn’t feel the tension was all that high, either - the one scene in which Sam seems actually in danger, with Mrs. Engstrom at the end, is resolved quickly and peacefully. In general, I wouldn’t say Sam acted like a person trapped in a house with a murderer.

Also, how weird is that whole ghost thing? Contributes to the whole stuck-in-a-creepy-castle-in-a-storm mood, very gothic, but kind of out there.
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08/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Girl (new) - added it

Girl Anonymous if you think this book is so dull, then why has this author won over FOUR edgar allen poe awards?


message 2: by Nic (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nic Girl wrote: "if you think this book is so dull, then why has this author won over FOUR edgar allen poe awards?"

Interesting question. Possibly this book isn't representative of the author's works as a whole, or the Edgar Allan Poe awards focus more on plotting than on character development (the part I found to be a bit lacking here), which would make some sense, as mystery is often a plot-driven genre.

Another answer, of course, is that what I think of the book does not affect the author's award status any more than the author's award status affects what I think of the book, which is to say, not at all.


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