Kittscher, Kristen. The Wig in the Window.
18 June 2013, Harper Collins
Sophie and Grace are great friends, and spy on their neighbors to pass the time. All goes well until they spy on the guidance conselor at Sophie's school, Dr. Agford, and think they see her hacking a bloody body on the kitchen counter with a cleaver. Of course, they phone the police with this information, and (of course) it turns out that Dr. Agford was really doing something benign instead. Sophie gets in big trouble with her parents as well as the school, and has to work in Agford's yard as well as undergo some counseling with her. Sophie makes friends with Trista, a heavy girl who doesn't take any ribbing from anyone, and tries to recuperate from her social downfall. She and Grace still suspect something is up, and when they are contacted with a woman who claims to be from the FBI, they continue their investigative efforts. Agford isn't the woman they think she is, or even the woman she tells them she is. Even though their relationship has its ups and downs, Grace and Sophie are friends who use their skills to uncover an even bigger mystery than they expected.
Strengths: This has some really great laugh-out-loud lines, and was a bit quirky without being annoying. The mystery grew naturally, and even though it seemed a bit far-fetched at the end, I believed it because of the build up. Realistic school relationships, well developed characters (Trista was awesome), and funny situations-- good stuff. I even could believe Agford's group of girls with -issa names, since my daughter was in a preschool class with Hannah, Savannah and Anna!
Weaknesses: This would have been a better story with some tighter editing. I found myself flipping pages a bit in the middle, wanting the pace to pick up.
And remember, middle school students have become BLOOD THIRSTY! They all want murder mysteries. Sic transit poor Encyclopedia Brown. (Who is now about 62 and looks more like the father than the boy in this picture.)
(Illustration by Leonard Shortall, I think.)