J.E. Thompson's The Girl From Felony Bay is a wonderful middle-grade debut that is chock full of mystery, adventure, and southern charm.The Girl From Felony Bay tells the story of one summer that changes the lives of two twelve year old girls forever. Abbey Force has had a lousy year: her father is in a coma and has been accused of a terrible crime, Abbey has had to move in with her mean aunt and uncle, leaving her beloved school behind, and the Force family home has had to be sold. Bee Force (no real relation) has just moved into Abbey's hold home, and carries both physical and emotional scars. The two girls become fast friends, and when Felony Bay, a secluded area of land on the Force property, is suddenly closed off and mysterious digging takes place on the land, Abbey and Bee set out to solve the mystery, but find themselves face to face with criminals, betrayal, and a hungry alligator!Thompson has crafted a well-written middle-grade contemporary full of a lot of fun, wit, and heart. The Girl From Felony Bay offers up two delightful young heroines, a rich and charming setting, and a heart-felt story about family, friendship, and love.I really enjoyed embarking on this fast-paced and exciting mystery-adventure with Abbey and Bee! Thompson writes with that captivating sparkle and shine, that is equal parts clever, funny, and relatable, and is so important in middle-grade fiction. Young readers will easily be swept into the thrilling adventure-mystery that Abbey and Bee stumble upon, and like the two heroines, readers will love feeling like detectives, searching for and solving clues. The mystery storyline is unpredictable enough to keep readers enthralled, but simple enough for even younger readers to follow. But the story isn't all adventure and mystery solving...Thompson explores some very relatable and poignant issues (such as grief, racism, and abuse) as well, and does so in age-appropriate ways.The Girl From Felony Bay is set in a semi-fictional part of a very real Charleston, SC. This is a city that I know very well and love, and Thompson has done it absolute justice! Richly and vividly detailed, this southern city comes alive within the pages, and is dripping with charm and quaintness that the author captures so well. Charleston feels like another integral and fully realized character that readers will be eager to meet (if you've never visited this city, you really should. It's an awesome place!).The two unrelated Force girls make for two very different, but equally lovable, heroines. I love Abbey's determination and intelligence, and Bee's fearlessness and loyalty. These are two heroines that readers will want to root for and be best friends with. And the friendship and genuine sisterly love that blossoms between them is so beautiful and heartwarming.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The Girl From Felony Bay was a complete joy to read! I adored the two young heroines, was enthralled and entertained by the mystery-adventure story, and dazzled by the well-developed setting.