A likable and diverting British import.

READ REVIEW

SLEUTH ON SKATES

From the Sesame Seade Mystery series , Vol. 1

An appealing girl detective makes her debut in the first of a mystery series.

First-person narrator Sesame, as she calls herself, aspires to be a supersleuth and has intelligence, a pair of purple skates, and a resourceful, if not wholly sanctioned, independence at her disposal. At 11 1/2, the bright, only child of accomplished parents (Mum, the head of Christ’s College at Cambridge University and Dad, the college’s chaplain), Sesame is amusingly exasperated with their attentiveness, and she’s got a preteen’s talent for smart comebacks. “Jesus Christ, Sophie Margaret Catriona!” her mother gasps in frustration with her at one point. “Is that his full name?” responds Sesame. When an undergraduate goes missing, Sesame pounces eagerly on the mystery, solving it via determination and coincidence with the help of a couple of school friends and a university student or two. It’s soon revealed that no harm has come to the girl, but dirty dealings are at work, specifically having to do with the way the university’s computer network has been compromised by an aggressive corporate marketing firm. The slightly breathless plot ties up neatly, with bits of university life woven in (a performance of Swan Lake, a nighttime paddle up the river Cam, meetings with various porters and professors—even Stephen Hawking in an unnamed cameo).

A likable and diverting British import. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3197-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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