So, recently we helped promote a Kickstarter for Who Stole the Ruby Slippers? The documentary will cover the 2005 theft of a pair of screen-used Ruby Slippers from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The case is notable for being unsolved, with no leads and no arrests made. Just the thing for a nice crime story, right?
Amanda Moon thought so and has turned out her first novel Stealing the Ruby Slippers, which creates a fictional tale about what may have happened to the historic pumps. The book follows the viewpoint of Jared (...) Canning, who breaks into the museum and makes off with the Ruby Slippers.
Moon opts to open the story with the theft, throwing the reader right into the action and following the aftermath. She reveals backstory and motive throughout the novel instead of loading the reader with it near the beginning: Jared is not an Oz or Judy Garland fan, he is doing a job on behest of someone who will pay him so he can pay off his gambling debts. There's just one major snarl in his plan: his buyer is in New Orleans, and as Jared tries to keep the shoes hidden, Hurricane Katrina strikes.
Complicating matters is Jared's girlfriend Kelly, who discovers the shoes and—being a fan of the movie—is excited that these are actually in her reach. Also, a couple friends of Jared's saw the shoes when Kelly found them. Also, the guy he owes money to is impatient for reimbursement, and isn't afraid to rough up his debtors. As matters grow worse for Jared, it's all he can do to try to keep the Ruby Slippers from being discovered or himself intact.
While I don't want to spoil the ending, the fact remains that it's based on a true unsolved crime, so there are a couple twists awaiting the reader. The book is mainly told from Jared's perspective in the first person in present tense. However, due to the way the story flows, this changes. It's not usual, but it does heighten the suspense and make the character feel a little more relatable. Moon certainly is invested in her storytelling, making the text enjoyable to read. Overall, it's a fine first novel.
Since we're an all-ages blog, I need to warn that this is not a book for young readers. It is not an Oz book, nor even a piece of Oz-themed fiction, such as Wicked or Was. This is a crime novel. There's violence, frequent uses of profanity, and references to sex and drug use. Kelly is described as attractive, and there are several low-brow comments made on her figure and her intelligence. This is a novel for the mature reader.
Stealing the Ruby Slippers is set to be released next month, and copies can be preordered from the author for $10 each. For a crime novel with a hint of Oz in it, check it out!