January 25, 2024

40 Days in Hicksville

Written by Christina Kilbourne
264 pp.
Ages 12+
October 2023
Moving to Clarendon with her mother to live in her grandparents' old home was supposed to give Kate Cooper a clean break from living in the city. Little did they know that she'd just find a new trouble with classmate Zach Whitchurch. Yeah, she's definitely safer in Clarendon a.k.a. Hicksville. Not. 

When Kate and her mom Sally move into the Cooper place next door, Zach is smitten. And Kate, determined to convince her mom Sally that she's making an effort, let's Zach show her around. When he points out Peter Goheen's property, warning her that he is known to be cruel and maybe even dangerous, Kate reveals that he is her grandfather, though she's never met him. When they venture onto his property to introduce Kate, Pater Goheen is less than welcoming and warns them against trespassing again. That doesn't deter Kate who, with Zach, discovers a cave-like crevasse which they investigate after midnight so that she can make a video. What they discover deep inside are the remains of two bodies. 
Zach's dad, a detective in Clarendon, reveals that a wallet in the jeans of one is that of Sally's fifteen-year-old brother James who disappeared in 1982 along with his friend Luke McLeod. For the first time, Kate learns about her uncle and his disappearance and about Sally's troubled family life because of her mean drunk of a father. Though Peter Goheen was questioned, Kate's dad Mitch provided an alibi for his father. And without bodies, it was impossible to know the truth. But that was then.

Are these the bodies of James and Luke? What happened to them? Who did it and why? 40 Days in Hicksville could be a true crime podcast, unravelling the story through Kate and Zach's eyes–chapters are alternating perspectives of the two teens–and with the twists and turns that often come with a thriller. Christina Kilbourne, author of The Limitless Sky, Safe Harbour and Dear Jo, takes us to a small Ontario town as if the setting for an episode of Dateline or 20/20, unravelling the mystery with each interview and piece of evidence and investigative step of the police.  And, as in those in-depth investigations of the newsmagazine shows, the trajectory from missing person to justice is not a straight line. There are those who keep secrets, those who hide truths, those who lie, and those who grieve. There are those who are determined to make things right and find justice. There is danger and revelations, standstills, and action. With a variety of characters, some who are aggravating, others naive, some scared, others aggressive, 40 Days in Hicksville remind us that small towns are not always boring communities in which nothing happens. Sometimes they are seething with secrets and dangers and history that are only revealed when someone from outside arrives. Kate may not have wanted to be in Clarendon but her first forty days in the town her father called Hicksville are as thrilling as the urbex videos that got her in trouble in the city. Fortunately, Christina Kilbourne's "Epilogue" reveals that this adventure has a far more constructive outcome for both Kate and her community.


  1. I'm from Hicksville! aka Chilliwack, BC. Love the title of this book and will check it out. -- Monica Kulling

    1. I just hope your Hicksville wasn't such a hotbed of criminal activity!

    2. It was/is a hotbed of grow-ops, Helen. 🤪

  2. Christina Kilbourne25 January 2024 at 16:16

    I'm biased but this is a great review! Makes me wanna read the book so bad. But, like, I know how it ends 😅 🙏❤

    1. Just sorry it took me so look to get to it. But, happy to have read it, reviewed it, and gotten it posted. A good mystery is always a treat.