Cover image for Notorious
Physical Description:
307 pages ; 22 cm

On Order

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A funny, suspenseful mystery and unlikely friendship story from New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman--perfect for fans of Swindle and Ungifted.

Keenan has lived all over the world but nowhere quite as strange as Centerlight Island, which is split between the United States and Canada. The only thing weirder than Centerlight itself is his neighbor Zarabeth, aka ZeeBee.

ZeeBee is obsessed with the island's history as a Prohibition-era smuggling route. She's also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered--something Keenan finds pretty hard to believe.

Just about everyone on Centerlight is a suspect, because everyone hated Barney, a huge dog--part mastiff, part rottweiler--notorious for terrorizing the community. Accompanied by a mild-mannered new dog who is practically Barney's opposite, ZeeBee enlists Keenan's help to solve the mystery.

As Keenan and ZeeBee start to unravel the clues, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that dates back to Centerlight's gangster past. The good news is that Keenan may have found the best friend he's ever had. The bad news is that the stakes are sky-high.

And now someone is after them. . . .

Author Notes

Gordon Korman was born in Montreal, Canada on October 23, 1963. When his 7th-grade English teacher told the class they could have 45 minutes a day for four months to work on a story of their choice, Korman began This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall. He was also the class monitor for the Scholastic TAB Book Club, so he sent his novel to the address on the TAB flyer, and a few days after his 14th birthday, he had a book contract with Scholastic.

By the time he graduated from high school, he had published five other novels and several articles for Canadian newspapers. He received a BFA degree from New York University with a major in Dramatic Writing and a minor in Film and TV. He has written over 75 books for children and young adults including the Swindle series, The Juvie Three, and two books of poetry written by the fictional character Jeremy Bloom.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--7--Keenan is a world traveler thanks to his mother, who teaches in international schools. He's forced to recover from tuberculosis on sleepy Centerlight Island. Half of this odd town is in Canada, and the other half is in the United States. At first, his only friend is a Canadian girl named Zarabeth, or ZeeBee, who is convinced that Prohibition-era gangsters buried treasure somewhere on the island. ZeeBee also talks constantly about her deceased dog, Barney, a humongous mutt that terrorized the town and all its residents but died under mysterious circumstances that ZeeBee is determined to uncover. ZeeBee loved Barney despite all his flaws and sees her new dog, calm and obedient Barney Two, as a poor substitute. When Keenan starts school (on the American side), he makes multiple friends, but doesn't connect with any of them like he does with ZeeBee. As Keenan and ZeeBee investigate the many residents of Centerlight who had reason to want Barney dead, they discover a deep kinship in each other that neither has experienced before. Chapters mostly alternate between Keenan's and ZeeBee's perspectives. Chapters narrated by the other residents of Centerlight move the narrative along, but the inclusion of adult-narrated chapters feels odd. Overall, however, the fast-moving, action-packed plot makes this a great choice for reluctant readers. VERDICT While not as funny as many of Korman's other titles, this is nevertheless a diverting read full of suspense and historical intrigue.--Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, MA

Publisher's Weekly Review

Keenan, 12, has lived all over, thanks to his mother and stepfather's jobs in international schools. When he ends up stuck at his father's house on Centerlight--a "one-horse" river island on the border between Canada and the U.S.--to recover from tuberculosis, he is eager to heal and get back to Shanghai. The only Canadian his age on Centerlight, lonely ZeeBee, befriends Keenan immediately. She is obsessed with the island's gangster history--including her home, where Tommy-Gun Ferguson once lived--and is also convinced that someone murdered her dog, Barney. Keenan initially ignores ZeeBee's conviction that the gangster hid gold on the island, and the American kids he befriends find ZeeBee odd, creating conflict. When Keenan discovers evidence that someone may be killing island animals, he and ZeeBee begin a treasure hunt with someone on their tail. Korman (The Unteachables) brings his usual humor and heart to this well-plotted mystery--told in alternating chapters by Keenan, ZeeBee, and a few other characters--that sensitively explores themes of friendship and family and offers realistically flawed, believable characters. Ages 8--12. (Jan.)

Kirkus Review

Barney was legendary for appalling acts of canine depravity until his recent death; two kidsZarabeth, his (one) mourner, and Keenan, her at-first-skeptical new friendinvestigate his possible murder.Keenan misses his cosmopolitan life in Shanghai, where his mom and stepdad teach at an international school. Recovering from tuberculosis at his dad's house on tiny Centerlight Island, divided between the U.S. and Canada, is beyond boring until he meets Zarabeth, with Barney's well-behaved (but sadly disdained) replacement and colorful tales of famous Prohibition-era gangsters attracted to the quiet island's largely unguarded international border; Tommy-Gun Ferguson, who built her family's house, might have hidden his gold bullion on the island. When Keenan, now well, proves popular at his new island school, Zarabeth feels isolated. Centrelight's few Canadian kids must attend mainland schools via ferry. Not incidentally, the island's more-numerous American kids resent contrarian Zarabeth's stubborn advocacy for anything-but-lamented Barney. Now snubbed by Zarabeth, Keenan looks into Barney's death to appease herand finds her suspicions well founded. Like the island's two spellings, Zarabeth's cross-border observations wryly assert Canadian cultural identity. She and Keenan, both presumed white, alternate narration and are good company. Vivid secondary characters commit spontaneous acts of hilarious mayhemthe unscheduled school-lockdown drill is one standoutthough Barney's extreme depredations (like destroying a Porsche and a house porch in one go) occasionally strain credulity. Readers need to buy such pivotal plot points.Chalk up another treat for Korman fans. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

When ZeeBee befriends Keenan, he's just beginning to rebuild his stamina after a bout of tuberculosis, while she's fiercely angry over the death of Barney, her old, troublemaking dog. She's indifferent to her current pet, a sweet, devoted spaniel that Keenan adores, and she suspects every resident of their island who detested Barney (the list is long) of murdering him. When school starts, Keenan is drawn into a circle of popular, somewhat reckless kids, to ZeeBee's dismay. A Canadian who must attend school on the mainland, she feels increasingly isolated until Keenan makes a disturbing discovery and they join forces to uncover the truth about Barney's death. Korman sketches characters with swift, sure strokes and places them in a distinctive setting: situated on an island in the St. Clair River, their town sits on a zigzagging international border dividing Michigan from Ontario. A subplot involving a treasure hidden by historical gangsters provides local color, but it's the intrepid young detectives who drive the story and make this a book Korman fans won't want to miss.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist