Krosoczka. Jarrett J. Platypus Police Squad
7 May 2013, Walden Pond Press
ARC provided by publisher; full illustrations not seen.
Rick Zengo is excited about his new job with the Platypus Police Squad, especially since his grandfather was a legendary member. He gets paired with the seasoned O'Malley, who is less than thrilled with his partners exuberance. The two get thrown right into an investigation when a local teacher, Professor Hopkins, goes missing and is believed to be involved in the burgeoning illegal synthetic fish supply that is ruining Kalamazoo City. Circumstances tie the disappearance to some of the businesses of Frank Pandini, Jr., whose father was behind much of the crime in the city, but who is trying to be a model member of society. Students at the school become suspect as well, including the boyfriend of O'Malley's daughter. The investigation does not go smoothly, mainly due to Zengo's ignorance of protocol, but the detectives refuse to give up until their city is safe. Pandini's enterprises may look to be on the up-and-up... but are they? A second book is sure to follow.
Strengths: Surly criminals, boomerangs, clubs for teens that serve root beer floats, a film noir cum CSI vibe, as well as copious illustrations-- what's not to love? Zengo is somewhat goofy but charming, O'Mally reminded me of Barney Miller, and while some reviews of this I have read thought there were a lot of detective cliches in this, it's all going to be new for the target demographic.
Weaknesses: This will be wildly popular with 4th and 5th graders, but might have narrower appeal in the 6th through 8th grade range. I was slightly confused as to the mix of creatures-- kangaroos, pandas, platypi, frogs as big as platypi, foxes and koalas? In Michigan? Okay, so Kalamazoo City is not set in Michigan, but I can't think of any other Kalamazoos. I can attribute most of this to me deep rooted dislike of talking animals in books!