With The House Where Nobody Lived, it's as though Brad (and his agent, editor and the folks at Dial) is trying to re-acquire a new audience. They all know that us Bellairs fans will buy it, and we'll know about every past event alluded to and inside joke or reference. It's the new readers that need to be targeted, and this book does just that. Here are two spoiler-free examples of what I mean.
1.) Just about all of the other Bellairs-Strickland books start off in the middle of a funny sentence a-la Childermass' "Drat, the Red Sox just lost!" Or, they start in the middle of a moment, like Lewis waking up from a bad dream. THIS book really introduces us again to Lewis and Rose Rita. They're introduced, it would seem, such that more new readers will have a chance to get to know them early in the book. It's quite refreshing. (Am I making sense)?
2.) This book takes what I call the Hitchcock approach. In other Bellairs-Strickland books we see early signs of the antagonist, or even the antagonist him/herself. Maybe the editors thought there was a need to grab the readers' interest early on by getting to some action. In this book, there's a deliciously intriguing mystery as to what's going on for much of the book. It's not until much later that you find out what the "happenings" are really about and when you actually meet the antagonist. This works really well to make this one a page-turner. You really want to more, and are given just enough to keep reading to find out.
Another interesting thing is that the standard Dial logo is gone from the spine. There's a new logo entitled "Sleuth Dial" with a fingerprint. Seems to be a new line of Dial Mystery books. Brad's magnificent Grimoire: the Curse of the Midions is also part of this line.
So, it's a bit different in some areas, and exactly right in others. All of the characters, the ones that we've all grown to love, are perfect. The dialogue is classic Bellairs-Strickland, too.
Great story. Great writng. Great characters and great dialogue. Now go out and get it!
Alex De Luca