Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones
I’m not really sure how to fully evaluate this book. As an adult woman, I didn’t like it, but then again I’m not the target audience, which is probably 9 – 12 year old boys. Giving it a complete pass just because I’m not the target audience feels somewhat weak however; I read a lot of children’s and young adult fiction and strongly believe that great books are great books, no matter the targeted audience. This one is not a great book.
On the plus side, it’s got a lot of excitement that probably does appeal to tween boys and reluctant readers. Chapters are short, and there are supposed to be a scattering of illustrations throughout the text (I read an advance copy that included the space for the illustrations, but the illustrations themselves were missing.) The setting is interesting and appealing – an old west ghost town transformed into a vacation destination. There are mock gun fights and staged train robberies.
My complaints? Nick can be abrasive and obnoxious. The parents bicker in the sort of way that I detest being exposed to – in real or literary life. Unrealistic events are glossed over. The available technology doesn’t seem to fit with the supposedly contemporary setting. The plot is weak and feels like it has random events thrown into it just to keep events moving. Nick’s finding the Bible with the mysteriously highlighted verses seemed inserted into the text as a way to emphasize the “Christian” aspect of the tale, but it didn’t advance the plot in any way that I could identify.
The book reminded me of the Percy Jackson books, as if it were written to try and get some of that market, albeit in a Christian/clean version. Have a tween who wants to read Percy Jackson but you want to avoid the supernatural elements in that series? Here, try Nick Caden’s story. I think that that’s in large part why the book fell so short for me – it read like it was written so specifically to grab a market segment, instead of being written because that was the story the author had to tell.
Overall I was really disappointed in it.
It’s All Just a Show…Right? Just Hollywood theatrics? “This is an authentic old west ghost town, son. Around these parts the dead don’t stay dead.”
Nick Caden’s vacation at Deadwood Canyon Ghost Town takes a deadly turn toward trouble when the fourteen-year-old finds himself trapped in a livery stable with the infamous outlaw Jesse James. The shooter whirls, aims and… vanishes. Great theatrics, Nick thinks, except now he’s alone in the hayloft with the bullet-riddled body of Billy the Kid. And by the time the sheriff arrives, the body disappears.
Soon Nick is caught in a deadly chase—from an abandoned gold mine, through forbidden buffalo hunting grounds, and across Rattlesnake Gulch. Around every turn he finds another suspect. Will Nick solve the murder? Will his parents have him committed? Or will the town’s infatuation with Hollywood theatrics conceal the real truth about souls, spirits and the destiny that awaits those who die.
In this new supernatural mystery YA series, award-winning author Eddie Jones takes readers to the Wild Wild West. Perfect for fans of mysteries and crime TV and reluctant readers.
Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: Eddie Jones
Category: Juvenile Fiction
Length: 224 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Release Date: October 2012
ISBN: 0310723442 / 978-0310723448
My Rating: 2 Stars
Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!