Review by Remy Ulmer
Orca Book Publishers, August 16, 2022
128 pages, Paperback, $10.95 USD
Ages 12+, Grade 8+
You can never push Mr.Ignato to tell you things if he doesn’t want to. So that’s all he said. He packed up his case and went back to his room. I figured there would always be another game of chess. I had plenty of time to ask Iggy more questions.
But I was wrong. In fact, there was no time left at all.
A few hours later I heard the scream.
A hearse called “The Pig”, a dog named Baby, and a smoking fourteen-year-old all walk into a bar? It sounds like the setup to a joke, but you can find all of these – along with murder – in Murder at the Hotel Hopeless.
This young adult novel by Canadian author John Lekich follows Charlie Hope, more cheekily known as “Hopeless”, as he and his unlikely companion Penny band together to uncover the real cause of an eerie and suspicious death at Charlie’s family hotel.
Charlie is a perpetually awkward seventeen-year-old stuck helping his mother run the Hotel Hope, which includes babysitting the piece of work child actor that is Penny Price while she hides out at the hotel. When Charlie isn’t forced to attend to every one of Penny’s needs, he can be found either playing chess with the elderly Mr. Ignato or almost crashing his best friend Dexter’s hearse while learning to drive. Oh– and definitely not crushing on new tenant and aspiring actress Lindsay Winthrop. His routine remains the same until Mr. Ignato shares with Charlie that he has a strange feeling of being watched and fears for his life. In a place where nothing particularly exciting happens, the unthinkable occurs: Mr. Ignato mysteriously falls to his death, but not without speaking his mysterious last words to Charlie. Invigorated by his words, Charlie is sure that Mr. Ignato’s death isn’t as clear cut as it seems. The only problem? No one believes him other than the insufferable Penny Price. Together they embark on a dangerous adventure full of mystery, deceit and potential curses to solve the murder at the Hote Hope(less). Can they uncover the truth and make it out alive?
A fun and thrilling read, John Lekich delivers a marvellous mystery that will have young readers turning every page. The novel details the importance of good and bad, friends and foes and most importantly following your gut especially when others don’t believe you. Charlie and Penny’s gradual growth from hatefulness to tolerance to friendly banter adds a level of wit to the story that allows readers to enjoy what can be somewhat of a stressful adventure for the characters. This novel is filled with heart, character growth, loveable moments and heartstopping plot twists. Lekich does a wonderful job of creating a thrilling detective story all while exploring themes of identity and unlikely friendships along the way. An easy read that will spark readers interest in mystery and crime, Murder at the Hotel Hopeless will bring out reader’s inner detective and have you guessing along with the characters each chapter. Any fans of the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard or One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus will enjoy this novel.
I recommend Murder at the Hotel Hopeless for any crime lovers, problem solvers and those who love a good who-done-it. It is a great beginner novel for teens who are wanting to branch into the mystery genre. The novel will make you feel all the emotions as the characters feel them, almost like you are tagging along right with them.
Remy Ulmer is a non-binary student at the University of British Columbia studying English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. They grew up in Medicine Hat, Alberta and are now based in Vancouver, BC. They have a passion for literature and writing, specifically young adult novels and classics.