Book review

The Sighting by Jan Mark (1997)

This is an absorbing book, but the one thing it really isn't about is little green men. At least, someone thought he saw something in 1948. But his family thought he was a bit crazy and made fun of him, and the joke got out of hand. Feelings ran high and a rift opened up in what had always been one big, happy family.

It would be difficult, wouldn't it, fifty years after the event, to try and piece together what had actually happened. But that is what Julius and Jack try to do. They are cousins, and only discover each other at the funeral of their great grandfather. So mighty was the argument which happened so long ago, that the family is completely sundered:

When I was a kid I noticed that everybody at school was loaded down with grannies and uncles and aunties and cousins, but in our family there were just the three of us. You have to remember, families didn't split up nearly so often in those days. But I didn't have anything to do with my grandparents, even; that was really unusual. I asked my father about it but he didn't want to talk, said there'd been a row, and he got angry when I pestered him. And I was old enough to see that he wasn't just annoyed, he was upset, so I let it drop. Then my parents got divorced when I was about your age and he went abroad, I completely lost touch with him. By the time I got around to asking my mother she was very bitter. I don't know how much she knew, but she didn't have a lot to tell me either. She said the whole family was raving mad as far as she could see, but some were madder than others.

That's Jack's father talking - so he doesn't know what the argument was about. By the time Jack and Julius meet, all the main players in the original argument had died long ago, all except for Aunty Bat. She knows what it was about but is so bitter, she won't tell.

Great opportunity then, for a bit of sleuthing with your new-found cousin. All Jack and Julius know is that Aunty Bat seems to be looking for something as she prowls round the old family house, and, she seems particularly keen to get her hands on the family photograph album ...

A detective novel, really, with a fair amount of careful detail. You will need to remember who married who, and when they died, but if you are prepared to do that, I think you will really enjoy this very satisfying mystery.

What can I read next?

Jenny Nimmo has written a great new book about mysteries in the family:

You could have a look at this one by Michael Morpurgo:

Or this one by Suzanne Fisher Staples:

Or you might enjoy this one by Susan Gates:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

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