Clues in the Shadows: A Molly Mystery - Kathleen Ernst, Jean-Paul Tibbles First I have to say, Molly was my first American Girl doll and has remained my favorite. I loved her as a character, her time period, and her stories. She is the one that rang more...real to me then many of the other girls. I read one review that says she wavers between peppy and self-centeredness and I kind of agree...most kids do. What I loved about Molly is that her world was turned upside down and she genuinely wanted to give what aid she could to end the war but she was still a kid. Her childhood was changed but not completely damaged. She still acted like a child at times, she still went through basic growing up, but she also, like children touched by such circumstances, wanted to be involved, wanted to help, wanted to do her part. I loved this, even then, because she was the one I could identify with. She wasn't perfect...I didn't want her to be.

So, yes, I had to pick this up when I learned they were doing mysteries of the various American Girls. The fact that this is set for an older age of reader and is a mystery (which I love) made it even better. I also loved the fact that we actually got to see her dad, always a presence in the books though he was over in Europe for the series. He returned at the very end of the last Molly book and I always hated that we never got to know him the way we did others in the series. We get to know him now and he is handled very well. The man they love is there, but he is different; changed as they have been changed by the war. Molly struggles with this as she also struggles with a weariness of the war (something she shares with many others at the time). Experiencing VE day with her, learning about the scars both seen and unseen that many soldiers would carry beyond the war, and seeing the conclusion of some women working outside the home through her eyes was well written and made me love the character even more.

This is well handled book and actually a not bad mystery. She's no Agatha Christie detective, there is no murder or anything major in that respect, but it is a very believable mystery for a young girl to become interested in and she solves it fairly well. It is a technically superb mystery, set up and executed exactly the way the rules say you should. There are red herrings, tangents, but the clues are there and it is very well executed.

I highly recommend this book and plan to buy it and place it beside my Molly books from my childhood. My one complaint is that I wish this had been written when I first received Molly. We would have had a lot of fun solving more mysteries together.