A cozy, entertaining kids’ mystery.

WHIZ TANNER AND THE VANISHING DIAMOND

TANNER-DENT MYSTERIES

Two young detectives investigate a rash of burglaries while assisting a visiting stage magician in this middle-grade adventure sequel.

The Tanner-Dent Detective Agency of Jasper Springs consists of two sixth-graders, chief investigator Wilson “Whiz” Tanner and Joey Dent, the director of field operations and the book’s narrator. (Their code names, respectively, are “Agent M” and “Agent K.”) Whiz’s backyard storm shelter houses the enviably cool Tanner-Dent Crime Lab, “which rivals any lab in any small police station in the country.” Recently, they solved an art crime, but before becoming detectives, the boys performed magic shows. When the Great Magini, a professional magician, visits town and needs young assistants for his show’s big illusions, they resolve to audition, so they brush up on their skills involving misdirection. They’re chosen for the gig, but they also have a new case to investigate: small valuables from several stores have been stolen. Each time, a customer asked to see the item—a diamond, a rare coin, a locket—but didn’t buy it, and the shopkeepers are certain that they put each piece away afterward. Then the items disappeared—almost like magic. The young detectives’ allies include Jerry Mormann, a local reporter, and, usually, members of the Jasper Springs Police Department; however, a new exchange program has swapped friendly Patrolman Bailey for mean Officer Ward. Rexroad (Whiz Tanner and the Phony Masterpiece, 2017, etc.) delivers an enjoyably old-fashioned mystery, reminiscent of Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown books, the Three Investigators series, and Franklin W. Dixon’s Hardy Boys tales; more than once, Whiz and Joey even visit the drugstore for milkshakes and floats. There are no real red herrings among possible suspects, though, making it easy to see the link between one of the characters and the thefts. But Rexroad does complicate the story with an unexpected motive, among other elements. He also shows his characters’ growth by, for instance, introducing a possible romantic interest for Whiz; Joey’s comments about this nicely capture a sixth-grader’s ambivalence about such matters. The finale offers a satisfying payoff.

A cozy, entertaining kids’ mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Rexroad International

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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