Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery -- Peter Abrahams
A thirteen-year-old heroine who admires and emulates Sherlock Holmes? Check.
An awesomely crotchety grandfather who secretly teaches said heroine to shoot? Check.
Loads of references to Alice in Wonderland? Check.
A leetle bit of romance? Check.
A murder mystery that unfolds slowly and culminates in a nail-biting finish? Check.
Down the Rabbit Hole came out in 2005—I don't know how I've missed it until now.
Stuck at the orthodontist's office, frustrated with her perpetually late parents and worried that she'll miss soccer practice, Ingrid decides to walk:
Even though she'd never actually walked from Dr. Binkerman's to soccer practice before, she had to know the way, having been driven there a million times. So what was the big deal about walking? Why hadn't she thought of this before? In fact, why not run?
Ingrid ran—turning right out of the parking lot, zipping past Blockbuster and Benito's, and over a bridge. Bridge? Funny, she'd never noticed this bridge before...
Before long, Ingrid finds herself in the Scary Part of Town and has to admit that she's lost. The town's most well-known crazy lady, Cracked-Up Katie, helps her out by inviting her in and calling her a cab.
The next day, Katie is found strangled. Though Ingrid knows that the police want to speak with anyone who's had contact with Katie in the last few days, she doesn't call. She knows that her parents will go ballistic if they find out she was on That Side of Town.
"Did you wear your appliance?" Mom said.
Was there any point in telling the truth about a stupid little thing like the appliance when you were simultaneously withholding information in a murder case? No, she thought. "Yes," she said.
Obviously, I loved it. Not just because of the mystery—I pegged the villain very early on, though knowing Who Done It didn't make it any less suspenseful—but because even though there's this Big Mystery in Ingrid's life, regular life continues: Ingrid's father is having problems at work, both parents are trying to get her grandfather to sell off some of his land, her brother is acting moodier and more violent than usual, she's up against her father's boss's daughter for the lead in the play, and the police chief's son might like her.
Really, really, really looking forward to getting my hands on the next one.