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Skeleton Creek #2: Ghost in the Machine


Skeleton Creek #2: Ghost in the Machine

It feels like the Dredge dug the heart out of my town and chucked it into the woods. All that’s left are the ghosts walking around

Ryan and Sarah may have been able to get out of their last predicament at the Dredge during the events of SKELETON KEY, but that incident is not going to stop them from continuing their explorations. Ryan writes, Sarah records, and together they construct another fantastic story full of twists, turns and big surprises. The two friends are obsessed with the Dredge and the ghost of Old Joe Bush --- and the more they uncover, the closer they get to the real answers. But something just isn’t right; obviously, forces are at work to stop them, and time is running out. Old Joe has even been in Ryan’s room and has written messages on the wall. Now, in a matter of days, the Dredge will be burned to the ground, and all those secrets will go unanswered forever.

Ryan does most of his sleuthing on the computer. His broken leg prohibits lots of activity, though he does manage to get around. His parents are also still set against any communication with Sarah, so activities are strictly done in secret. By following Sarah’s leads, they slowly begin to uncover more information. What Ryan least expects to find is that his father is part of a secret society called the “Crossbones.” The group, they discover, is directly related to the Dredge and Joe Bush --- but for what purpose? And what about Ryan’s discovery of a list of names connected to the Crossbones group, made up of scientists long since dead: Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke and Robert Boyle? Ryan is eventually able to connect the dots between the three men, but the closer he gets to the truth, the more questions he has.

When Ryan identifies that his dad is involved with Crossbones, he realizes that there is no one left he can trust except Sarah. He can’t even trust his own mother, for she may be involved as well. The only adult he can rely on is Harry, his father’s best friend. Ryan describes Harry as “the coolest guy around” and confides in him. But has Ryan placed his trust in the right person, or does the influence of Crossbones run deeper than he imagined?

In the meantime, Sarah does her own exploring into the secrets of the Dredge. She works out a system of communication through emails and hidden notes so that she and Ryan can share the information they obtain. Eventually, the intrepid pair discovers when the next Crossbones meeting is taking place, but when bodies start piling up, the situation goes from bad to worse. Who is safe anymore? Everything is closing in, and Sarah and Ryan are getting desperate.

Patrick Carman’s style is fun and entertaining but with pangs of suspense as well. All the way to the last chilling pages, readers will be enthralled and totally surprised by the unexpected answers. This sequel to SKELETON CREEK continues with tightrope tension interwoven with pop culture and literary references. Everybody here seems to be a suspect, and no one can be trusted. Hang on to your flashlights and be ready for some really great twists!

And on a side note, be sure to visit so you can enjoy all the interactive activities in GHOST IN THE MACHINE.

Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on October 1, 2009

Skeleton Creek #2: Ghost in the Machine
by Patrick Carman

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2009
  • Genres: Suspense
  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 054507570X
  • ISBN-13: 9780545075701