This mystery novel is the first book in "The Davis Detective Mysteries" series by Rick Acker and is published by Kregel Publications.
The Case of the Autumn Rose is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Arthur and Kirstin Davis, a brother and sister duo, have set up a detective agency to resolve minor infractions such as locker thefts or to locate things, such as lost dogs. One day, they receive an international phone call from a woman named Madame Dragonfly. She asks the two to investigate how a horse farm called Autumn Rose got its name and if it has a connection to her father, Pierre LeGrand. She explains how her father left Vietnam soon after she was born and how she and her mother have not heard from him in many years. All Madame Dragonfly knows is that her father possesses a valuable pearl called the Autumn Rose. She wonders if he fled to America and named the farm after this valuable treasure. After they take the case, men in dark cars start following Arthur and Kirstin. With a gang and unknown assailants following them, they race to find the treasure. When the police temporarily take them off the case, Madame Dragonfly convinces their parents and the police that the Davis Detective Agency is in just as much danger being off the case. She supplies bodyguards for the children, and the investigation continues. Kidnapping, false trails, gunfire and a high-speed boat chase eventually lead the children to the Autumn Rose (the pearl). At the close of the book, Madame Dragonfly decides she can't keep it for herself. She has come to know Christ and now believes there is something far more valuable than this pearl.
The novel opens with an account of a 130-pound soldier who carries a 200-pound man for many miles. He credits his strength to the power of Christ. Arthur and Kirstin talk about the Bible, the power of prayer and the role Jesus plays in giving them direction. Arthur prays for protection for his sister and Madame Dragonfly, a non-believing woman with a Christian father. She tells the story about how her father became a Christian and how he no longer views the pearl as priceless. He wrestled with its value and determines that his daughter should not be given the pearl until she understands the parable of the pearl of great price in the Bible. He also refers to having prayed for years that his daughter would realize something far more valuable than the pearl. The author depicts main characters who not only are God-fearing, but also have a daily relationship with Him as Lord. They are contrasted with some characters who do not know the Lord and who are on an empty search for wealth.
The Davis children, Arthur and Kirstin, get permission from their parents before taking the case. Their relationship with their parents is treated as a respectful submission to authority rather than as a strained or resented demand. There are also references to such things as praying about safety and trusting a healthy and respectful set of parents to give proper parameters to their detective work. When the danger becomes greater, the parents want their young detectives to back out of the case, and no argument takes place between the parents and the disappointed teens. The Davis home appears to be a traditional family with traditional roles. The mother voices her questions and concerns to her children and guides them in making their own choices. She also drives them to the horse farm when she is concerned for their safety. Madame Dragonfly is cool and distant from Arthur and Kirstin. During her first phone call with them, she asks them to refer to her by a code name and gives them very little information. The two decide to ask her for more information to see if she is willing to be honest with them. The young detectives develop a cooperative relationship with a police officer. This officer treats the children as helpful and highly regarded sleuths who help him with his time consuming work.
Other Belief Systems
Some of the characters in the book are referred to as nonbelievers, but there is no mention of their belief systems.
There is no profanity in the novel. The Vietnamese T-shirt Gang shoots at their car and boat, but the kids are able to dodge the bullets. Two bodyguards are kidnapped at a roadside rest stop, thrown in the car and taken away. Later, it is made clear that they were drugged or sedated.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What would you do if you were part of the Davis Detective Agency and your mother did not want you to take a case?
- Describe what integrity means to you. Be sure to give examples.
Can you think of anyone who demonstrates integrity in your life?
How is integrity a reflection of God's character?
- Do you think leaving information out of your explanation to someone who asks you a question is lying? Why or why not?
What does God's Word say about lying?
- Do you think your parents would have let you take the Case of the Autumn Rose? Why or why not?
Have your parents ever kept you from doing something out of concern for your safety?
How did you feel at the time? Did you obey?
What were the consequences of your decision?
- At what point in the story do you think your parents would want you to back out of the case?
At which point would you back out?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.