Home > Book, Book Review, Mystery, Reviews > Book Review – Tremolo: cry of the loon (A Gus LeGarde Mystery) by Aaron Paul Lazar

Book Review – Tremolo: cry of the loon (A Gus LeGarde Mystery) by Aaron Paul Lazar

Book Description:

In this coming-of-age mystery set in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, young Gus LeGarde witnesses a girl being chased through the foggy Maine woods.

She’s scared. She’s hurt. And she disappears.

Tremolo is a stirring and nostalgic trip back to summer, 1964, in which Gus faces his deepest fears while solving a baffling mystery.


I’m not familiar with Aaron Paul Lazar’s Gus LeGarde Mystery Series which follows the amateur sleuthing of a college music professor, but Tremolo: cry of the loon should serve as a prequel of sorts since it stars an 11-year-old Gus LeGarde. Well, it never hurts to start at the very beginning, right?

In Tremolo: cry of the loon, eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde spends a most memorable summer in 1964 with his family (and best friends Elsbeth and Siegfried Marggrander) at his grandparent’s lakeside camp “resort”. The summer serves as a coming-of-age of sorts for young Gus who learns some hard truths about evil in the world, while struggling with confusing new feelings (a crush on an older girl) and dealing with a family tragedy. Tremolo: cry of the loon actually reads to me like more of a memoir than a mystery book (the narrative voice is adult-ish even though the main characters are kids, and it felt like the voice was coming more from an older person remembering the past).

The mystery in Tremolo: cry of the loon is treated almost as a subplot,  and it involves the disappearance of a young girl from a neighboring camp. Gus and his friends are convinced that the missing girl is the bleeding terrified girl they saw in the woods being chased by an angry drunk man. Gus (with Elsbeth and Siegfried) resolve to help the police or find the girl themselves, and soon find themselves in over their heads and in mortal danger.

People who have similar childhood memories (or lived in the 60s) should find this book very nostalgic indeed, as Aaron Paul Lazar paints an idyllic and pretty vivid picture of 10 to 11-year-old kids who are free to roam forest trails, go boating/swimming on their own, ride horses bareback, steal berries, etc – you know, pretty much get into scrapes and adventures that I doubt many kids would experience these days. I for one have never experienced anything like the sort of freedom these kids had, so I was really fascinated and felt like I had traveled back in time or something.

Some readers may find this a boring read though, since the pacing for the book is pretty slow and sleepy for long stretches, and it does take a while before things come to a head. The author’s foreword does say that he drew strongly from his own childhood memories for many parts of the book, and maybe he went a bit overboard with the nostalgia factor (including adding a mysterious very important camp ‘guest’ guarded by secret service men – an added plot point that strained credulity for me). There’s lots of side stories, such that there were times I was wondering where the editor was. I felt that the book needs more trimming, with some unnecessary chapters including one where the children watch a slide presentation about a flowering tree – so boring that the children slept through it, and I felt like sleeping myself!

It would be interesting to check out the books starring the older Gus though – I kind of wonder what kind of man this kid grew up to be 🙂

Tremolo: cry of the loon (A Gus LeGarde Mystery) by Aaron Paul Lazar is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition and Paperback Edition.

You can also get the ebook at the Apple iBookstore and Barnes and Noble.

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