My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Emma Graham is the precocious protagonist/narrator of Fadeaway Girl, precocious being the operative word. Emma’s pretty busy for a pre-adolescent, waiting tables at the restaurant where her mother cooks, concocting exotic alcoholic cocktails for her aging aunt, and, in her spare time, solving decades-old cold cases of kidnapping. The bones of this story, and this series, are good. The problem lies within Emma as main character. The town in which she resides is small, a place where everyone knows everyone, and everyone seems to accept that Emma’s wise beyond her years. She writes serious pieces for the local newspaper. Her vocabulary is prodigious, her deductions and insights penetrating and astute, and her powers of observation the best in town. All the adults with whom she interacts are, well, her inferiors when it comes to smarts. Therein lies the problem – all this genius is admirable in a character like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple. In a child, after the first moments of wonder, it becomes an distracting annoyance. There are moments of humor and moments of pathos, but it’s hard to sustain interest in an investigation lead by a moppet, unless you’re a moppet yourself.