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Literature / Drawing A Blank

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Drawing a Blank, or, How I tried to solve a mystery, end a feud, and land the girl of my dreams is a 2006 book by Daniel Ehrenhaft about Carlton Dunne IV and his family's ancient feud with Clan Forba. Carlton is a sixteen year old loser stuck at Carnegie Mansion School, a New England boarding school, his only refuge is his comic strip, Signy the Superbad. Then, his father calls him out of the blue, saying he's in Scotland, kidnapped by Clan Forba and Carlton needs to bring "the proof" or he's dead.

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What is Carlton to do? He gathered what papers he can find in his father's ransacked apartments and heads to Scotland to confront the kidnappers. There, he is rescued from death by a bizarre Scots girl named Aileen who decides helping him is just what she needs to get into the Police Academy. She knows about Clan Forba, who now calls themselves the MacCloughs. They own the salmon industry Orkney and are no one to cross lightly. The question Carlton has to answer is, does she know a little too much?


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This book exhibits the following tropes:

  • Footnote Fever: 68 of them. Largely asides where Carlton explains an obscure word or reference.
  • Funetik Aksent: Fortunately for the reader, most of the dialect that Carlton does understand comes translated into clear English. The rest is portrayed this way. It's hinted in a few places that the locals play up the accent for tourists.
  • Missing Mom: Carlton's mother died when he was too young to really remember her. His father drove off his stepmother by showing little to no affection.
  • Rescue Romance: Shortly after Carlton arrives in Scotland, Aileen rescues him from a speeding van (It's a setup) and he quickly falls for her.
  • Stylistic Suck: Carlton draws strips of Signy to calm himself and the reader gets to read them interspersed between chapters. The artwork and the writing is highly stilted and the plot is extremely sparse, i.e. exactly what you might expect a teenager to draw.
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