Hard-boiled boy detective Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire, takes on his first big case.
Inspired by fictional hero Sam Solomon, star of 1930s-era-Chicago detective novels, Charlie has a knack for solving brainteasers and run-of-the-mill middle-school crimes and misdemeanors. Lucky for him, his sidekick Henry has an eye for business and makes sure to parlay Charlie’s skills into a few extra dollars. Turns out that Charlie is not the only one obsessed with Sam Solomon. His eccentric grandmother and riddle-loving librarian Eugene also know Sam’s modus operandi. Up until now, Charlie has handled small cases, but he longs for his first big case. His assignment comes from an unlikely place—turns out Eugene is more than a librarian, and he needs help with a local case of missing exotic birds. While the story is overlong for the intended audience, the snappy first-person noir language keeps the plot moving. The midstream addition of intuitive Scarlett and misunderstood Sherman adds depth to the story and gives hints of capers to come. Each chapter title is borrowed from a Sam Solomon novel, keeping the link between Charlie and his fictional hero alive.
What would Sam Solomon and Charlie Collier do after cracking this case? Solve another one, readers hope. (Fiction. 9-13)