Thursday, June 01, 2017

The World's Greatest Detective

Carlson, Caroline. The World's Greatest Detective
HarperCollins (May 16, 2017)
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Toby's parents were both presumed dead after a boating accident, and after bouncing from relative to relative, he has finally landed with his Uncle Gabriel, who is a detective in the early part of the 1900s. His uncle is not a tremendously successful detective, so Toby has enrolled in Inspector Webster's Detective Course, hoping to gain some skills to help his uncle take business away from the more successful Hugh Abernathy, as well as other detectives in their Detectives' Row neighborhood. When Abernathy announces a contest for The World's Greatest Detective, Toby applies, and pretends that his uncle is with him, but wants to be confined to his room to "think about the mystery". Toby meets Ivy, the home owner's daughter, who wants to be a detective herself. Abernathy is supposed to stage a pretend murder, but soon he is found dead... poisoned by an unknown source. Ivy and Toby, along with the other detectives who are participating, start to investigate and uncover a dastardly plot. Can the two young detectives solve the murder without becoming victims themselves?

Given any insurmountable problem, we know that the answer to it is always TWEENS! Save the universe from aliens? Save the world from evil? Solve the mystery? Clearly, children are always more clever than adults, especially when the children are orphaned! Toby and Ivy manage to do a great job of working around the interfering adults without being two precious or precocious, and they work together well.

The historical setting is a bit vague, although there is a women in a motoring outfit, which would put this roughly at the heyday of the traditional British murder mystery in the 1920s. This is a great way to bring in the Detective's Row as well as the detective competition. I'm never all that good at solving clues, but this offers up a number of them for the two budding sleuths to uncover in the vast house, and motivations to discern from the large cast of characters.

This would be a good introduction to traditional mystery books by Christie and Sayers and a good follow up read for those who enjoyed Hannigan's The Detective's Assistant,  Smith's The Mesmerist Lane's Young Sherlock Holmes series, Stratford's The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency books and Stevens Wells and Wong Mysteries.

As much as I enjoy these mysteries, they are a tough sell with my students, so I probably won't purchse this, especially since it's about 350 pages long.
   Ms. Yingling

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