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"He gave a deep theatrical bow and, turning, he murmured, "'Boldness is a mask for fear, however great,' as old Lucanus said." The words stuck in my frantic mind, for he was right—my boldness did mask my fear."
Antoine Duval speaks to Angeline Reddy[2]

Behind the Masks is the forty-first book in the Dear America series. It is also the fifth new book in the series' relaunch. It was published in January 2012 by Scholastic. The book was written by award-winning author, Susan Patron. It was followed by Down the Rabbit Hole in March 2013.

The town of Bodie, California slips into lawlessness, when Angeline Reddy's father, a well-known lawyer, disappears.


"For Richard Jackson, with love"


"My name is Angie. This is my story....
Life in the Wild West is never dull, especially not after Angeline Reddy's father, the town of Bodie's greatest criminal lawyer, is declared murdered. Angie, who knows deep in her heart that he isn't dead, decides it is up to her to solve the mystery of what happened to him. But when her mother takes ill and a mysterious ghost appears, putting together the puzzle pieces seems impossible. Not to mention, a gang of vigilantes, the 601, is raging out of control, running folks out of town, and nobody is safe.
Will Angie, with the help of friends Ellie and Ling Loi, and the mysterious and tragically handsome Antoine, be able to uncover the secret of her father's disappearance?


A young Wells Fargo clerk arrives at the Reddy household to inform them about the death of Patrick Reddy, an famous criminal lawyer in Bodie, California. However, Antoine has no proof and Patrick's wife and daughter, Emma and Angeline, believe that he is still alive. Angeline confirms her doubts, when she sees her father's empty coffin at Ward's Undertaking Shop. That same day, Angeline meets Ling Loi Wing, who reveals that she knows Angeline's father.

Two days later, Ling Loi returns with a message from Patrick, a key to his antechamber. Angeline uses the key and finds a sealed envelope labeled "601," the name of a group of local vigilantes. Without Patrick to stop them, the 601 run wild through the streets and force families out of town for crimes that they have not been found guilty of. Later, Angeline returns to her father's antechamber with her new friend, Eleanor Tucker, when they see a strange apparition of a little girl.

Meanwhile, the women of Bodie are preparing for the upcoming Fourth of July ball, when Antoine takes Angeline to her father, who promises to come out of hiding soon. Angeline grows closer to Ling Loi, after hearing her about her past from Lottie Johl, Ling Loi's foster mother and former prostitute. Later, Lottie and her husband leave town, realizing that Bodie's citizens will never forget Lottie's past. Unfortunately, they are robbed by bandits on the way to Bridgeport.

At the Fourth of July ball, Lottie wears a mask and wins "Most Beautiful Costume," and claims to know who robbed her. Sheriff Pioche Kelley scoffs and says that Antoine was the actual culprit. Suddenly, Patrick appears and after much negotiating with Hebert McPhee, the three perpetrators are apprehended. After the ball ends, Eleanor's father, Darryl reveals a secret that has plagued him for fifteen years. The night ends with Antoine telling Angeline that he has made "a discovery."


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Behind the Masks characters
  • Angeline Reddy, the daughter of Bodie's famous lawyer, Patrick "Pat" Reddy. She refuses to believe her father is dead, when Antoine Duval delivers the news.
  • Ling Loi Wing, a Chinese orphan, who lives on Bonanza Street and earns money by washing the clothes of prisoners. She helps Patrick Reddy, when he goes into hiding, and befriends Angeline.
  • Eleanor Tucker is the daughter of prominent Bodie citizen, Darryl Tucker. She becomes good friends with Angeline and confides her true feelings about her father to Angeline.


Main article: Susan Patron

Susan Patron is the author of the award winning novel, The Higher Power of Lucky, and its sequels. She worked as a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library until she retired in 2007. Patron first visited the now ghost town of Bodie twelve years prior to writing Behind the Masks. She stated that as she walked through the town she felt "a vivid sense of the real people who had lived there." After writing The Higher Power of Lucky trilogy about a girl living in a former mining town, she wanted to know how it would feel growing up there when the town was still alive.


  • Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
  • Publisher: Scholastic Audio
  • Published: January 1, 2012[4]
  • Running time: 5 hours and 49 minutes
  • No. of discs: 5
  • ISBN: 9780545391702[5]


"In striving to capture historical details as authentically and seamlessly as possible, I owe a great debt, for their unstinting help and expert advice (although any errors are my own), to the following: Robert P. Palazzo, knowledgeable as to weapons of the period, was generously receptive to my questions. He has written extensively about the Reddy brothers, Ned and Patrick, and also responded to my queries about them. Terri Lynn Geissinger, Business Manager of the Bodie Foundation, met me in the Bodie Museum and kindly answered questions after my husband and I had explored the town in the fall of 2010. Grateful thanks to Dr. Joseph L. Dautremont, DDS, for his vivid description of late nineteenth-century dental practices and for reviewing that section of the manuscript. I'm priveleged that Dr. Judy Yung, professor emerita in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, an authority on the history of the Chinese and Chinese Americans in the West, read this book in manuscript form and responded with insightful and useful suggestions and comments. Her time and expertise are hugely appreciated.
An enormous boon to me in writing the mask-making scene were the careful notes and photographs provided by an intrepid three-generation team of Georgia Chun, Erin Miskey, and Christen Miskey, who re-created the process using period ingredients and techniques. Patricia Leavengood (with her insight and ideas on the subject of masks) and Georgia Chun boosted morale as always.
Many thanks to Lisa Sandell and Jody Corbett for their kindness, enthusiasm, and editorial expertise. Thanks again to Susan Cohen and to Kirby Larson for advice and encouragement.
Much appreciation to Lloyd Woolever for generously lending me unique materials from his collection.
Theresa Nelson redefines friendship and bigheartedness. She helped me see ways to make this a better book than it otherwise would have been. Thanks, too, to our cohort Virginia Walter.
René Patron made my writing of this book (as with all else in life) fun, rewarding, and possible.


  • The portrait on the cover was illustrated by Tim O'Brien, whom was the illustrator of the Dear America relaunch. The background is a detail of a 2011 photograph of West Sacramento, California provided by the California State Parks.[6]


See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]