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Whistling In the Dark Kindle Edition

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Length: 324 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The loss of innocence can be as dramatic as the loss of a parent or the discovery that what's perceived to be truth can actually be a big fat lie, as shown in Kagen's compassionate debut, a coming-of-age thriller set in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959. Ten-year-old Sally O'Malley fears that a child predator who has already murdered two girls, Junie Piaskowski and Sara Heinemann, will target her or her little sister, Troo, next. Sally's mom is in the hospital, while her big sister, Nell, is distracted by love and her stepdad, Hall, by the bottle, so who can save her if the killer is, as she suspects, her neighbor, David Rasmussen, a popular cop who has a photo of Junie hanging in his house? Though the mystery elements are sketchy, Kagen sharply depicts the vulnerability of children of any era. Sally, "a girl who wouldn't break a promise even if her life depended on it," makes an enchanting protagonist. (May)
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Delightful...gritty and smart, profane and poetic. -- Milwaukee Magazine

I loved Whistling in the Dark. It was a fabulous book. Living with the O'Malley sisters for the summer is an experience that no one will forget. -- Top CHOICE award

Innocently wise and ultimately captivating. -- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kagen's debut novel sparkles with charm thanks to 10-year-old narrator Sally O'Malley, who draws readers into the story of her momentous summer in 1959. The author has an uncanny ability to visualize the world as seen by a precocious child in this unforgettable book. -- Romantic Times Top Pick [4 and a half stars]

One of the summer's hot reads. -- The Chicago Tribune

The plot is a humdinger...a certifiable Grade A summer read. -- The Capital Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (May 1, 2007)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001M0BUPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,622 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lesley Kagen is an actress, voice-over talent, former restaurateur, sought-after speaker, and award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of five previous novels. Her work has been translated into seven languages. A mother of two and grandmother of two, she lives in a hundred-year-old farm house in a small town in Wisconsin. Visit with her on Facebook and at her web site

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

157 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Gayla Collins on June 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Whistling in the Dark" is an endearing tale about the "O'Malley sisters," Sally and Troo, 10 and 9 years of age, and their summer chalked full of turmoil and suspense. Their mother becomes gravely ill leaving them to be tended by a drunken stepfather, a disinterested older sister, and a neighborhood full of delicous, eccentric characters. Set in 1959, the book remembers days of lazy summers filled with "red rover," "green light, red light," and playground antics. Though seemingly the era of innocence, darkness hides in the shadows, and Sally and Troo stumble upon it in it's most dangerous form. Thankfully, the O'Malley's have enough family and neighbors in their arsenal to allow this book to be enlightening, humorous, and charming, as well as intense.

Ms. Kagan has the ability to make the reader experience belly laughter, jitters, tingling fear, and sentimental sadness. Descriptions and dialogue are colloquial, while the plotline turns the pages for you. Gift yourself to this summer won't regret it.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Told from the perspective of a young girl, Sally O' Malley, this is the kind of summer read that can change your life - or make you remember a world you used to know, if you grew up during the 50s.
From start to finish, I was completely enthralled. Sally is a totally believable child and she has a combination of innocence, kindness and common sense that is unique. She also has great intuition, which eventually lets her sense when true danger is around (although she takes a few wrong turns along the way).

I don't know how to best categorize this book - is it the tale of two sisters who learn to turn to each other when crisis strikes? Is it a suspenseful murder mystery? There is certainly great danger, in the form of a child murderer, true evil in a world full of 50s nostalgia, standing out even more against the contrast of simpler times, long summers and kind neighbors.

To add to the drama, Sally and her sister, Troo, are nearly on their own for the summer, while their mother recuperates from a long illness. Yes, sister Nell is supposedly in charge, but she is far more preoccupied with her boyfriend and other distractions to do a proper job. SO Troo and Sally have to depend on each other. They have intensely different personalities but an equally strong bond.

Don't ignore the Conversation Guide by author Leslie Kagen, at the back of the book. It offers insight into how she actually wrote this novel, not something she had a great deal of confidence in actually completing. She came up with a superb, heartwarming work, full of heart, suspense and a master's touch at evoking time and place.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By bhr on November 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Told from the point of view of 10 year old Sally O'Malley, this story is a brilliant mix of living history (I didn't live in the 50's, but I felt like I did, reading this), thriller (there's a child murderer on the loose in the streets), and simple drama. At points, I was convinced, like sally, of who the murderer was, simply because of the evidence Sally had that no one else would see or understand. Her black and white vision of the world is often at odds with what I understand must have been going on, but because of the way the story is told, I saw through her eyes.

Sally is a great character whose true heart shines through the whole book. Though there are great hardships in her life, she sticks with her sisters and sees through to the end. Supporting characters like Nell, the older sister who is to care for her siblings but spends more time "exercising" with her boyfriend, Hall, the abhorrent stepfather, and the rest of the cast really pull the story along. And the background plot keeps it moving.

A great read!

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hilarie on April 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
Sally O'Malley knows what's really going on. At least, she knows more than any of the adults in her life would believe possible. It is 1959, and Sally is missing her father, who recently died in a car accident which occurred in the company of Sally's uncle and her little sister Troo. Sally made some promises to her father before he died, and the most important is that she would look after her sister. Sally, who is delightfully earnest, has every intention of following through to the letter. In the meantime, someone is murdering and molesting little girls on Vliet street, the street where Sally is now living after her mother's hasty remarriage to her new stepfather, Hall. Sally thinks she knows who is up to no good, and all she is hoping for is to protect her sister and her self. This will be difficult, as Sally's mother is in the hospital, and the rumors are that she might never be coming out. Sally and Troo are on their own.

I so enjoyed this book. Sally was a wonderful character. As with all children, Sally was aware of so many of the things going on in the community. She might have drawn the wrong conclusions, but only because of her lack of experience. The most difficult part about reading this book was that I longed to throw my arms around both Sally and Troo (they were so lovable), and bring them to my house to protect them from the things that threatened them. The book is less a mystery than a coming of age story, but the mystery aspect of the story was satisfying as well. There were also many poignant moments in this book that brought the hint of tears to my eyes, especially those related to parents and children. I don't want to give anything away as far as storyline, so let me just say, read this book! You won't be sorry.
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