THE CASE OF THE WIGGLING WIG

This is the 25th book starring Jack McGurk (The Case of the Absent Author, 1995, etc.), private investigator and iron-fisted leader of the McGurk Organization, and the five neighborhood kids who are McGurk's eyes, ears, and gofers. This time the hero is housebound with a broken leg when a case conveniently presents itself right next door. Are the new renters FBI agents? Treasury investigators? Plenty of stakeout duty, close surveillance, meticulous notes, and diagrams (reproduced in black-and-white illustrations) lead the Organization to finger the tenants as thieves and to prevent a major robbery. What's fun is that it's possible to imagine ordinary kids doing everything the McGurk gang does, from booby-trapping a vacant lot to sending messages in semaphore code. Hildick's British idioms contrast oddly with the US locale, but fans of this kind of fast- moving formula fiction won't pause long enough to notice. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80082-7

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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Flimsily entertaining

THE SECRET OF WHITE STONE GATE

From the Black Hollow Lane series , Vol. 2

An American schoolgirl in a British boarding school battles a secret society in this adventure.

In this trope-y sequel to The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (2019), the students at Wellsworth must stay safe from the evil order that’s been there for generations and still entangles their parents. Emmy, a white, well-to-do Connecticut 12-year-old, is determined to return to Wellsworth even though last year she was nearly killed. The Order of Black Hollow Lane, the mysterious bad guys who are disguised as the school’s Latin Society, want something from Emmy. Her long-lost father, for one, and Emmy’s box of medallions, for another. Why? Do they really need a reason aside from being an evil club full of wickedness determined to find a whole box of MacGuffins that will somehow make them even richer and more powerful or at least propel the plot? In any case the dastardly fiends plague Emmy, framing one of her best friends for theft and leaving cryptic notes and computer files to threaten the lives of Emmy’s loved ones. Though the Order has infiltrated this (nearly all-white, wealthy) school for generations, Emmy must somehow defeat them and save her dad. The quest is peppered with spy-thriller moments that are mostly only thinly sketched and go nowhere, though some (such as a disguise right out of Scooby Doo cartoons) are funny enough to keep the action moving.

Flimsily entertaining . (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6467-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Comical and clever in spots but overall, a sad follow-up to Mystery on Museum Mile (2014).

MYSTERY IN MAYAN MEXICO

From the Eddie Red Undercover series , Vol. 2

A free trip to the Yucatán pitches Edmund, a young artist/sleuth with a photographic memory, and his OCD pal Jonah into a new investigation involving an unsolved old crime and disappearing gold.

Edmund opens his account sitting in a jail cell, clad in a wet Darth Vader costume, covered in scratches, blood and barf (“I smell awesome”), his wrist in a cast—and really not looking forward to calling his parents. Following this magnificent lead-in, though, the tale goes downhill rapidly, from the disappearance of an ancient gold mask to the climactic struggle with a knife-wielding thief atop a rain-swept Mayan ruin. In between, Wells concocts a nonsensically contrived caper involving Hebrew orthography, poorly integrated “evidence” from false fingerprints to glimpses of the bad guy dressed as a museum guard, and an obvious, no-brainer clue to where the gold is hidden that has somehow gone misunderstood for decades. Moreover, even less-reflective readers will wonder how Edmund and Jonah can break into an apartment and bend various other laws in the course of their investigation without suffering any legal consequences. Along the way, Jonah’s practice of smearing a gift-store Mayan effigy with peanut-butter and blood “sacrifices” comes off more like cultural mockery than harmless fooling. Calo’s accomplished drawings bring characters and details to life but are both rare and, sometimes, too finished to believably represent Edmund’s quick sketches.

Comical and clever in spots but overall, a sad follow-up to Mystery on Museum Mile (2014). (appendix of Mayan gods) (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-30206-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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