This book isn’t nearly as odd as it sounds.
The detectives in Kalamazoo City are platypuses, and the mayor is an ostrich, but other than that, this is a standard-issue police story. Detective Zengo is an eager, young member of the police squad (everyone calls him “rookie” or “slugger”), and his partner, O’Malley, is a hardened member of the force who says things like, “Not sure if you’re old enough to ride, slugger” (ouch). The squad even wears sunglasses, like the detectives on TV. That’s not to say that the book will ever be confused for a modern-day version of Dragnet. The case involves a burning amusement park and a movie star. But in spite of the quirks, the mystery is a boilerplate sort of investigation. The dialogue is hardly ever more interesting than “…you guys go check out the administration offices on the other side of the park.” The mystery might not be startling, but it’s never predictable, either. Almost every character is a legitimate suspect, right up until the end. As training wheels for the police procedural, kids could do a lot worse.
Retailers won’t need to stock up on sunglasses or platypus dolls, but readers will keep turning pages up to the last chapter, and quite a few of them will be ready, immediately, for the next volume. (Mystery. 8-12)