A superficial look at the basics of criminal forensics and investigation, addressed to young Sherlocks but more likely to draw soul mates of the great detective’s resolutely sedate brother Mycroft.
The manual thoughtfully supplies amateur sleuths with a perfunctory “kit” consisting of a tiny ink pad and a nearly useless periscope with brushed foil reflectors. It then proceeds to lay out procedures for gathering hair, fingerprints and like evidence from a living room or other “crime scene.” Succeeding spreads cover surveillance techniques, interviewing “witnesses” and “suspects,” profiling (readers are encouraged to keep a card file on friends and family—an enterprise that cannot end well), handwriting analysis and using codes while working with partners. Other tangential or seemingly random elements include a made-up crime on a folded poster at the front that receives no further mention, a spread on spycraft and a set of loose cards with mix-and-match facial features. Much of the content on nearly every page is pointlessly printed on or covered by glued flaps, and the cartoon illustrations are strewn with an eye-glazing array of ordinary household items and generic figures in static poses.
Waddell properly trumpets the importance of sharp observational skills, but he doesn’t provide budding detectives with much impetus to develop them. (Pop-up/nonfiction. 8-10)