Review: Notorious

notoriousBook: Notorious (2020)
Author: Gordon Korman
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Mystery
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Keenan goes to recuperate from tuberculosis at his dad’s house on an island that is split between the United States and Canada. That’s when he meets ZeeBee (who lives on the Canadian side). She’s obsessed with the history of prohibition-era smuggling. She’s also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered. At first, Keenan doesn’t know what to think about her and her suspicions. But then he starts to think she’s on to something…


1) I loved the history about gangsters on the island! I’m not sure I’d want to be mixed up with real-life gangsters, but they’re fun to read about. And ZeeBee is a fount of knowledge.

(That said, from what I can tell, Centerlight Island isn’t a real place. There IS an island in the middle of the St. Clair River. However, Stag Island is a private island and belongs to Canada.)

2) Barney Two was adorable. This is the dog that ZeeBee’s parents get to replace the dead Barney. ZeeBee can’t stand him because he’s so different from her former pet. I do like how Barney Two works his way into the plot.

3) It was fun to see the little Canadian vs. American differences… including the name of the island. ZeeBee calls it Centrelight. Keenan calls it Centerlight. I do find it interesting that they both use the metric system for measuring, but that might be because Keenan was schooled overseas??

4) I liked how Keenan and ZeeBee’s friendship develops throughout the book. It was nice to see the ups and downs.

5) The mystery is also quite fun. There are enough clues to figure it out whodunit, but it’s not super obvious.


1) I will say I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know what was true/untrue in this book… especially with regards to the island. There’s no author’s note to explain anything, so I found that a bit annoying. Especially since there is history involved in the story.

2) I do not understand why Barney (the first dog who’s dead) was even allowed to terrorize the island in the first place. Just the realist in my raising my hand.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – If you like Gordon Korman books, you’re in for a treat. I really enjoyed this one!


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

10 thoughts on “Review: Notorious

  1. If a novel is based on a true story, there is material saying so. There may be hints of a true story that the author took liberty with and created a really fun piece of historical fiction to read. I too enjoy books that include early prohibition stories. I was surprised to see a character with tuberculosis in a story. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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