Mason, Jane B. and Sarah Hines Stephens. Play Dead: A Dog and His Girl Mysteries #1
1 February 2013, Scholastic
Copy received from YABC and reviewed there.
Cassie's mother is the town's chief of police, and Cassie's dog, Dodge, is a former police dog who is very well trained. When the town's richest man, Verdel Ward, disappears, a lot of people have a vested interest in what has happened. The mayor thinks he has left property to the town. A fiance comes to claim her share. The faithful housekeeper is just irritated that people keep trespassing on the estate. Frequent trespassers include Cassie and Dodge, who are trying to solve the mystery. Narrated alternately by the two, we get a dog's eye view of what was going on at the estate, and Cassie gets a lot of valuable clues from Dodge's sleuthing. Will Cassie's prodding get her in trouble with her mother, or will it actually put her in danger?
Strengths: This was a great mystery for middle grade students. First of all, the main mystery was one where someone is suspected of being murdered, and that's what students are constantly asking for! The chapters narrated by Dodge included details a dog would notice, but were not annoying. Cassie's relationship with her police chief mother was realistic. A subplot involving a stray dog that Cassie was trying to save at Pet Rescue came into the mystery nicely. I'll be interested to read the others in this series.
Weaknesses: I wish that this were available in hard cover! So many good mystery series come out in paperback, and those last so poorly in a school library.
Lorimer, Janet. Tuesday Raven.
1 September 2009, Saddleback
Jenn is a CIA agent who has been called to London to work with British operative Rob, who was involved in a previous case with her that result in her being shot by a terrorist called the Raven. Another agent has been shot, and the only words he said before going to the hospital are "Tuesday Raven". Jenn and Rob follow various clues, but are stalked by two dangerous characters. Will they be able to figure out what the cryptic words mean before something horrible occurs?
Strengths: I just had a 7th grade boy who really wanted Tom Clancy books; this wouldn't be good for him, because it's a really short, hi/lo title, but I can enthusiastically recommend this to some of my struggling readers. Lots of good descriptions of London!
Weaknesses: Tiny bit cheesy and pat, but Lorimer thankfully doesn't slip into the hi/lo trap of cutting sentences in half. So that they are easier to read. I hate that