In this third adventure in a series, two sixth-grade detectives investigating a mysterious DeLorean discover a hidden tunnel and nefarious shenanigans.
When a schoolyard argument ensues over whether someone really was pushing a DeLorean into Farmer Zimmer’s barn near the abandoned secret Air Force antenna station, the kids know who can provide the answers: the Tanner-Dent Detective Agency, consisting of sixth-graders Wilson “Whiz” Tanner and Joey Dent, who narrates the book. (They also know enough to make a Back to the Future reference.) With their well-equipped secret crime lab and Whiz’s “super-duper brainpower,” the duo has already solved several mysteries in Jasper Springs that confounded local police. After dodging some bulls in Farmer Zimmer’s field, the agents do discover the DeLorean in his barn—along with some puzzling elements, like a large hole with a ladder in it. Further surveillance shows that Donald and Cal, two suspicious men, are digging a tunnel toward the Air Force station in order to steal a large safelike object for an unknown buyer. With adults hard to convince, the boys know it’s up to them to nail the thieves, so they conceive a daring, technologically advanced, and patriotic plan to expose the villainous plot, hoping once again to show the power of meddling kids. Rexroad (Whiz Tanner and the Vanishing Diamond, 2018, etc.) provides another pleasing entry in this series, which, despite its modern setting has the vintage feel of Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown books or Robert Anthony Jr.’s Three Investigators series. This is partly due to the lack of any real danger in the story as well as Joey’s love of root-beer floats, plus Jasper Springs’ poor cellphone coverage—meaning old-fashioned communication difficulties (that happen to be convenient for the plot). But Rexroad does introduce modern investigative tools and techniques like geotagging, drones, and pattern-recognition programs, which are used to good effect in solving the mystery. The book moves at a cracking pace with several exciting episodes that require courage and resourcefulness from Whiz and Joey, leading to an ending that’s pure satisfaction. Joey, an ordinary, sports-loving kid, supplies a relatable narrative voice that makes a good contrast with Whiz’s precise diction and brainy vocabulary.
Another highly entertaining Tanner-Dent investigation.