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.