What would (fictional) Sam Solomon do? Charlie Collier, “weight-challenged” sixth-grade private eye, asks that question whenever he is faced with a dilemma.
Charlie, along with sidekicks Henry and Scarlett solve cases large and small—from figuring out how to retrieve a tennis ball lost down a hole to capturing a serial burglar. This time, Charlie nearly misses out on the case because he gets roped into playing the lead in the class play opposite Scarlett, who still has little romantic use for him. When Charlie notices a connection between the burglaries and the re-released Sam Solomon radio dramas, he opens his business again, against his father’s orders. Even his eccentric cryptographer grandmother, who shares the investigator gene with her grandson, makes it clear that this case is too dangerous. Only Charlie’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Sam Solomon episodes—and his science teacher’s frequent brainteasers—can save the day. A few missteps (it’s hard to believe a bakery or a pet store would have more than $2,000 in the overnight till or that the thin boy on the cover is Charlie) take away from the action, but true fans will ignore them.
Twenty-four short chapters move along at a clip to satisfy mystery fans, with plenty of red herrings and real clues sprinkled along the way. (Mystery. 9-12)