It’s up to a rhino private eye to solve a mystery and prevent a cheater from winning the Big Race.
Private eye Mack Rhino and his trusty bird assistant, Redd, are off to buy new furniture (as the rhino has splintered yet another desk chair) when a mysterious phone call offers Mack his 100th case: a mystery concerning shoes. But the harried caller, who dropped clues off at the wrong address, doesn’t give Mack much to go on. Even worse, a jailbreak at the ant farm upstate means some of the usual suspects are back in action—and likely with an ally. Meanwhile, the two favorites for the Big Race are Jackie Rabbit, who wants to donate the prize money to build a playground, and Skunks McGee, under scrutiny for his track record of cheating. Other runners experience pre-race troubles in the form of vanishing shoelaces. Mack must think fast to distract Skunks during the race so that the sabotaged Jackie can win, and then to explain how Skunks did it—the suspected team-up with the Ant Hill Gang. The clues are clear enough for the target audience of emerging readers to solve the mystery themselves (the cast size and subplots made manageable with a cast of characters and glossary), and the puns bring laughs. Black-and-white cartoon illustrations tend to highlight slapstick.
A soft-boiled animal detective story sure to please beginning readers. (Mystery. 5-8)