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The Odds of Getting Even


The Odds of Getting Even

As I begin this book review I need to get something off my chest: I am a huge fan of Moses “Mo” LoBeau --- the protagonist of Sheila Turnage’s Tupelo Landing series --- and my review will likely reflect my adoration for her! The first book in the series, THREE TIMES LUCKY, was a Newbery Honor winner and the second book, THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, also received acclaim and was selected for the Texas Bluebonnet Award list. THE ODDS OF GETTING EVEN is the third book in the series and I really hope that it is not the last! 

Mo is a feisty detective, a modern day Nancy Drew or Harriet the Spy, and, along with her friend Dale, runs the Desperado Detective Agency in her small town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Detective in training Harm Crenshaw has joined the Desperado Detective Agency in this latest book and ranks as Mo and Dale’s second best friend. The Desperados may be tackling their toughest case yet in THE ODDS OF GETTING EVEN as the prime suspect is Dale’s very own father, Macon Johnson.

Macon breaks out of jail just before a series of robberies ravages Tupelo Landing. All the evidence points towards Macon, but Dale doesn’t believe his dad is guilty and is determined to prove it. Mo and Harm struggle with supporting Dale as friends and following the evidence they discover as detectives. The findings that the three share in the chapter titled “The Big Reveal” are surprising and will likely catch even the most astute readers by surprise. 

Mo is a strong female character for this generation and Turnage is an author to watch; I know that I plan on reading everything that she writes.

THE ODDS OF GETTING EVEN and Tupelo Landing are populated with a host of interesting characters that add to the quality and texture of the story. For example, there are the Colonel and Miss Lana, Mo’s adoptive parents and the owners of the local café. And there is Lavender Johnson, Dale’s older brother and Mo’s main love interest. Then there is Detective Joe Starr, whose patience is constantly being tested by Mo, Dale and Harm’s investigations. Miss Retzyl --- Mo, Dale and Harm’s teacher and Joe Starr’s girlfriend --- is also an important person in Mo’s life and in Tupelo Landing. Mo says, “Miss Retzyl’s smart and pretty. She excels at Average—average clothes, average hair, average car. Average is exotic in my life. I adore her” (p. 47). And not to be forgotten is Mo’s Upstream Mother to whom she writes almost daily letters.


One of my favorite things about this series is Turnage’s descriptions and word play. She uses phrasing that often makes me stop and reread just so that I can savor the language again. For example, Mo says, “my temper’s a work-in-progress. So far it’s all work and no progress” (p. 11). The idea of a work-in-progress is not a novel one, but Turnage takes it and makes it new and interesting. Another example is this description of the Azalea Women as they enter the café. “The Azalea Women, aka the Uptown Garden Club, wedged through the crowd elbow to elbow like a dumpy rugby team and grabbed a table near the jukebox” (p. 18). The idea of a “dumpy rugby team” makes me smile.

I highly recommend THE ODDS OF GETTING EVEN to readers of all ages. And if you haven’t experienced the adventures of Mo and Dale in THREE TIMES LUCKY or THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, I suggest reading those as well. Each of the books stands alone, but the series is so good that they should all be read and appreciated. Mo is a strong female character for this generation and Turnage is an author to watch; I know that I plan on reading everything that she writes. 

Reviewed by Aimee Rogers on December 2, 2015

The Odds of Getting Even
(Mo & Dale Mysteries #3)
by Sheila Turnage

  • Publication Date: April 4, 2017
  • Genres: Children's 10-12, Humor, Mystery
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books
  • ISBN-10: 0142426164
  • ISBN-13: 9780142426166