Summary: Ryan Dooley is a teenager with a troubled past living with his uncle to get his life back on track. When a stroll after work leads him to witness a schoolmate named Mark Everley falling from a bridge to his death, he is called in for questioning. The police initially rule Everley’s death an accident but Dooley finds himself under scrutiny from his classmates, teachers, and Everley’s sister who wants Dooley’s help in finding out what happened to her brother. A memorial service/party Dooley attends ends up getting him involved in another murder case when another classmate he has a history with turns up dead and he can’t account for his whereabouts after being drugged. It is up to Dooley to figure out who is really behind the murders before he is arrested.
Number of Pages: 313
Age Range: 15-17
Review: Two mysteries are unfolding in Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock. The first is the mystery behind deaths of two of Dooley’s classmates. But the second mystery revolves around Dooley’s character. McClintock makes her reader work for every little bit of information about his past and how he ended up living with his uncle trying to make things right as well as how he is connected to the other characters in the story. As a result I found myself frustrated with the stilted pacing and by my lack of knowledge about the main character at crucial moments of the book.
Dooley himself is an interesting character though. He has made grave mistakes in the past but he is sincerely working to change things and regrets his past actions. He comes off as a hero in the case of defending Alicia, a girl with Downs Syndrome, from bullies, and as he endeavours to clear his own name he uncovers the real murderers. He’s a real character whoWhat I did glean about his past was intriguing, although the overall vagueness of it left me feeling irritated.
But I liked Dooley’s uncle. He’s gruff and pretty hard on Dooley, but he’s also the first one to have his back in the various criminal investigations Dooley finds himself a suspect in. He provides him with a home and keeps close tabs on him, trying to keep him on track as best he can.
I ended up wishing I had read a prequel because the story of Dooley’s past was just as engaging as the story McClintock was telling. Perhaps then I would have also had a better grasp on what was going on in this book.
I’ve labelled the age range on this book as being for mid to older teens because of the subject matter. I have also left my review vague so the mysteries will be preserved for those who have not read this book before. Readers should be aware that this book contains violence and disturbing themes.
“That guy Lazarus, he must have known it was permanent lights out. Then the next thing he knows, he’s up and walking around again. Dooley had never figured out if that was a good thing or a bad thing. And anyway, why Lazarus? A better question: why only Lazarus? If you were that good, if you could raise the dead, why stop at just one?” – Dooley from Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock, page 45
“He told himself he didn’t care, that he’s made a career out of not caring, but the truth was that he hadn’t cared before because before he had novocained himself into a state of insensibility. Now he was clean and sober and, in his opinion, a pretty argument for why booze worked, why pills worked, and why drugs worked.” – Dooley from Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock, pages 228-229
“‘Cry me a river,’ his uncle said, so sarcastic that Dooley wanted to slug him. ‘You’ve got two ways to go, Ryan. It’s always the same two ways. You can act like a baby and have a temper tantrum because people aren’t treating you the way you think you deserve to be treated. Or you can be a man, suck it up, keep on paying your dues, keep focused on the things you can do something about – which is how you conduct your life, your life Ryan, not everyone else’s life – and how other people choose to see you. You think of another way to handle it, you let me know. But you won’t. You know why? Because there is no other way. You can only get through this minute and the next one and the one after that. You can’t fast-forward, skip all the bullshit and the commercials, and end up with a nice, happy ending. Life isn’t like that. Life’s more like rehab, Ryan. One day at a time. I know you know what I am talking about.'” – Dooley’s uncle from Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock, page 236
“It was like walking into a fire so you could show everyone you were fireproof, even though you knew – and they knew – that you weren’t. What was the point?” – Dooley from Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock, pages 236-237