THE TREASURE OF DEAD MAN’S LANE AND OTHER CASE FILES

SAXBY SMART: PRIVATE DETECTIVE, BOOK 2

Middle-grader Saxby Smart is back in his Thinking Chair for three more stories in this second volume of his mystery series (The Curse of the Ancient Mask and Other Case Files, 2009). Speaking congenially to readers, Saxby invites them to help deduce the clues. In the first case, Saxby must find a rare comic book that’s gone missing from a locked safe, and he uncovers lots of interesting comic-book trivia in the process of discovering the motive—old-fashioned greed—and the perp. The middle is the most engrossing of the three stories, involving an historic mansion with a dark past where Saxby’s friend finds a scroll hidden in the wall that leads them on a brain-teasing hunt to the real “Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane.” Last, Saxby must unravel the enigma of six students who all have two things in common: home intruders and an anti-stress class. Troublemaker Harry Lovecraft makes a reappearance, and his uncle plays a key role in the mystery. Generously dappled with Alley’s breezy line drawings, the cases are timely and twisting enough to keep the light bulb bright in the young sleuth’s mind. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-475-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A thrilling, mystery-laden story with an incredible setting.

BEAR BOTTOM

From the FunJungle series , Vol. 7

Leaving FunJungle Adventure Park for a vacation on a ranch in West Yellowstone, 13-year-old Teddy and his girlfriend, Summer, find themselves searching for missing bison while in the middle of solving a jewel heist.

The latest book in Gibbs’ FunJungle series leaves the adventure park for new territory. Even so, Teddy can’t seem to escape mysteries. While staying at the Oy Vey Corral, his skills as a teen detective are enlisted by the ranch owners to help find out who is stealing their purebred bison. When a grizzly bear named Sasquatch breaks into the ranch house late one night and Summer’s mother’s dazzling multimillion-dollar necklace goes missing, Teddy finds himself working not just one whodunit, but two. From an old hidden room for hiding bootleggers’ stashes to an abandoned gold mine and a bull on the loose, Gibbs keeps the pace moving and the action coming. While most of the main characters are presumed White, there is diversity in secondary characters. The owners of the Oy Vey Corral are Jewish. Gibbs doesn’t shy away from discussing America’s brutal treatment of Native peoples or the ways Americans have destroyed animal populations and habitats. This action-packed mystery with a satisfying resolution doesn’t rest on predictable thieves or obvious answers.

A thrilling, mystery-laden story with an incredible setting. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7946-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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