CORNWALL - Vermont is blessed with many resident authors-from bestsellers to self-published entrepreneurs. It seems every month starts with at least one or two intriguing, hot-of-the-press books penned by Vermont authors. The most recent Vermont novel to arrive, titled "The Great Circus Train Robber" by Nancy Means Wright of Shoreham, is no exception.
Who stole three red rail cars from Spence's antique circus train? Was it neighbor Juniper Boomer who slams his door on anyone who is brave enough to knock? Was it Butch and his brother who torched the Portapotties the town put up for the Festival on the Green? Or was it a wacky clown from the local Quirkus Circus, one of whom cavorts with old rail cars in his act?
Well, 12-year-old Zoe determines to solve this Addison County mystery. But Zoe has another reason beyond helping her friend Spence. She wants to become a lieutenant in the boy-dominated Northern Spy Club, to prove that a girl can be just as tough an espionage agent as a boy. The hair-raising quest takes Zoe and Spence from Boomer's murky basement to the Quirkus Circus (think Circus Smirkus) itself, where clown Hackberry suddenly races out of the ring and disappears.
Set in Wright's recurring fictional town of Branbury, Vt. (think the Middlebury-Shoreham corridor), "The Great Circus Train Robbery"-published by Hilliard and Harris Publishers and a sequel to Wrights' Agatha Award-winning "Pea Soup Poisonings" adult novel-is the latest novel by local author Wright. It is based on a mid-1960s summer in the childhood of Wright's four children when they were joined by three cousins after a brother-in-law's private-plane crash.
While Wright was busy attending Middlebury College's French School, the seven kids survived at home on chunky pea soup Mr. Wright made in five-gallon crocks and then served in a reconstituted chamber pot-mmm, good.