Inspired by their forensic-science class, middle schoolers Hannah, Ben and Corey start up a CSI club just in time to investigate a mysterious incident of food poisoning in the school cafeteria.
The new science teacher is young and cool—and she doesn’t eat red meat. Grudgingly, Mrs. Collins, the cafeteria manager, agrees to try her recipe for tofu meat loaf. The principal and a number of students get sick. Who’s responsible? Cool Miss Hodges? The grumpy manager or her bullying son, Ricky? The store that provided the tofu? Methodically, the three investigate, just as they’ve been taught: planning ahead; looking carefully at the scene; taking pictures, notes and even samples with Hannah’s cell phone; and interviewing suspects. The straightforward third-person narration moves quickly, with plentiful dialogue and generous portions of information about crime-scene investigation, salmonella and safe food handling. Stock characters and a made-for-television ending won’t bother readers who will be drawn in by the familiar setting and fascinating process of crime investigation. Lewman has previously written numerous books starring popular characters such as Sponge Bob and G.I. Joe. With three more titles in this new series scheduled to appear this year, he should have ample opportunity to flesh out Hannah, Ben and Corey a little more.
Sure-fire book bait for middle-grade readers. (Mystery. 8-12)