Young Adult Book Review: The Dark Deception by Morgan Baden

By Jennifer Hancock | Central Library

For those of us who grew up on the Scooby Doo Mysteries, this series of books reintroduces us to the characters we loved. Sixteen-year-old Daphne and Velma, from Mysteries Inc., have recently resumed their friendship from childhood and are once again solving mysteries in their hometown of Crystal Cove. While the cartoons focused entirely on the present, these books give us background on the characters—their family dramas, problems, and insecurities. You get to see Daphne trying to reestablish her relationship with an absent but famous and wealthy mother. You see Velma dealing with the loss (and then recovery) of her family home and a father suffering from severe depression. Even Shaggy, the laid-back, always hungry guy with the huge Great Dane, is found to have a rough home life with a father who never sees Shaggy as "good enough." It is intriguing to think that the characters we watched as kids were probably battling some of the same issues as us.

In The Dark Deception (Daphne and Velma YA Novel #2) by Morgan Baden (available in audiobook on Hoopla), mysterious jewels begin washing up on the shore of Crystal Cove, which begins a wave of anxiety and chaos in the community that Daphne and Velma are determined to unravel; especially when they find out that the jewels on the shore were timed to cover an expensive crystal being stolen from Shaggy's house. Using Daphne's reporter skills and Velma's encyclopedic knowledge, the two girls work together to track down the culprit. And there is even a bit of romance thrown in with Daphne crushing on a fellow reporter and Velma reuniting with her childhood crush, Fred. (Of course, Velma's low self-esteem gets in the way of rekindling a friendship there . . . maybe in a future book!)

This story is well-written and the story line is complex enough for adults, though there were a few moments when the adult in me wonders why they might believe someone sacrificed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewels just to steal an expensive crystal. Still, with suspension of disbelief, the story was quite enjoyable. I look forward to more of the Daphne and Velma stories!