CASE CLOSED

THE REAL SCOOP ON DETECTIVE WORK

In his usual meticulous fashion, Meltzer (Piracy and Plunder, below, etc.) explores the many facets of detective work, from the historical perspective to the contemporary sleuthing of the detective on the street and the laboratory scientist. Part one of this fascinating work explores the everyday lives of detectives, how detecting became a profession, what questions detectives have to answer, why they use scientific tools, and the techniques they use when they deal with witnesses and white-collar criminals. Part two describes the many ways forensic science solves crimes in the laboratory. Cogent explanations accompanied by black-and-white photographs detail how scientists use DNA testing or how scientists analyze fabrics, hair, or dirt found at the crime scene in the search for clues. The reader gets a short course in ballistics, visits a serological lab involved in blood testing, learns about the study of documents and handwriting as well as lie detectors and eyewitness identification and forensic anthropology. Part three details the many kinds of detective opportunities available outside the traditional police force. Here, too, Meltzer’s in-depth approach segues from the Pinkertons and the Molly Maguires and the growth of the private-detective sector to the current work of the Innocence Project at the Cardozo School of Law, where professors and their students have become detectives looking for evidence that frees unjustly accused prisoners. Meltzer blends historical narrative, scientific description, and practical career information to create an interesting, offbeat look behind the scenes of the detective story. An extensive bibliography, photo credits, and index increase its usefulness for student reports. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-29315-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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MASTERPIECE

Eleven-year-old James Terik isn’t particularly appreciated in the Pompaday household. Marvin, a beetle who lives happily with his “smothering, overinvolved relatives” behind the Pompadays’ kitchen sink, has observed James closely and knows he’s something special even if the boy’s mother and stepfather don’t. Insect and human worlds collide when Marvin uses his front legs to draw a magnificent pen-and-ink miniature for James’s birthday. James is thrilled with his tiny new friend, but is horrified when his mother sees the beetle’s drawing and instantly wants to exploit her suddenly special son’s newfound talents. The web further tangles when the Metropolitan Museum of Art enlists James to help catch a thief by forging a miniature in the style of Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. Delightful intricacies of beetle life—a cottonball bed, playing horseshoes with staples and toothpicks—blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship that requires a great deal of frantic leg-wiggling on Marvin’s part. Murphy’s charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8270-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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