Young Adult Fiction, Grades 4-6
First Line: Amy Treloar kicked off her shoes and climbed onto a cushioned bench in the middle of Regents Mall.
Amy is a young girl who wants to spend time with friends, but she finds it difficult to make them because she always seems to be in charge of her developmentally disabled sister. After her latest argument with her mother, Amy runs off and finds herself in the vicinity of her aunt, who lost her job in Chicago and is staying in her grandparents' house getting it ready for sale. Helping her aunt in the attic, Amy finds a wonderful dollhouse, a perfect match in every detail to the house in which she's standing. She finds her aunt's aversion to the dollhouse peculiar, but brushes it off until she discovers something very creepy: the little people in the dollhouse can move...and they seem to be trying to tell her something. Dissatisfied with her aunt's explanation, Amy starts sleuthing, and it's not long until she finds out that her great-grandparents were murdered in the house and that her aunt's fiance (who died the same night in a car wreck) has always been blamed for the crime. Are the little dollhouse people trying to tell her whom the murderer is?
I was almost immediately hooked by this book and was actually creeped out by those little dollhouse people. The main plot was fast-paced and engrossing, but the sub-plot involving Amy, her sister and her parents was very good as well. I can see why The Dollhouse Murders has been a popular mystery for twenty years, has won awards, and has been translated into dozens of languages. I wish it had been around when I was a child!