Another enjoyable case from the Whiz Tanner files.

WHIZ TANNER AND THE WOUNDED PIGEON

From the Tanner-Dent Mystery series , Vol. 6

In this sixth middle-grade adventure novel in a series, two young detectives investigate an injured carrier pigeon, a mysterious message, and a lost treasure.

In the small town of Jasper Springs, criminals often meet their match in the Tanner-Dent Detective Agency, consisting of two meddling sixth-graders: Joey Dent and Wilson “Whiz” Tanner. Although Police Chief Reid doesn’t like to admit it, the youngsters have solved some knotty cases. Joey, or “Agent K” for detecting purposes, is the “Director of Field Operations,” meaning he does most of the running around, while Whiz, or “Agent M,” is “Chief Investigator,” the mastermind of the outfit. As the novel opens, the detectives are speeding (by bicycle) to the local veterinarian after discovering an injured bird—a carrier pigeon with a mysterious coded message. Dr. Wolfe removes the pellet that someone shot at the bird, who will live to fly again—but who owns this feathered friend, and what does the message mean? In their headquarters—a sophisticated “Crime Lab,” housed underground in Whiz’s backyard—Whiz decodes the jumbled message, but it remains cryptic. They find the pigeon’s owner, Sally Kelly, but her boyfriend, Bob Weston—the last person who possessed the bird—is missing, his college dorm room ransacked. Several adventures, a rescue, and an enigmatic college dissertation lead to answers—and buried treasure. Rexroad (Whiz Tanner and the Secret Tunnel, 2018, etc.) again provides an entertaining mystery that hearkens back to series like the Three Investigators. As in previous books, the vintage feeling is heightened by a strange paucity of modern communication devices outside the Crime Lab, which doesn’t always make sense; Sally, for example, lives in her own house, but she can’t afford internet access. The boys’ personalities are nicely balanced; Whiz is a Holmes-like genius, while Joey, the Watson-like narrator, is a more relatable, ordinary kid, often distracted by mundane matters, such as baseball tryouts and his perplexing feelings for aspiring seventh-grade detective Jessica Carlton. Although the adventure isn’t quite as exciting as the previous installment’s, it will still keep readers guessing.

Another enjoyable case from the Whiz Tanner files.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946650-14-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Awesome Quest Mysteries

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2018

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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