After a long hiatus, the Spotlight Club Mysteries return with a new posthumous entry and a paperback reprint of another.
Blond siblings Cindy and Jay, of indeterminate age, and their neighbor Dexter, distinct mainly because he wears glasses, solve mysteries together in a fictional town so mild it could be a Beverly Cleary setting. However, whereas the physical safety of Klickitat Street exists to highlight emotional and developmental depth, Parry and Pierce’s town—Kenoska—houses whodunits (or what-is-its) that characters easily glide through, enthusiastic but free from disputes or sweat. In this world, adult strangers are no actual threat, and a child can pick up prescription medication. (In contrast, kid-made gravestone rubbings sell for $15 apiece. Really?) The kids bike around town between home and the cemetery, earning money to save a museum and forging connections among a wrought-iron bench, a missing locket, feuding adult sisters and a long-dead artist. Answers are too thin, results too perfect. A second title, publishing simultaneously, Mystery of the Bewitched Bookmobile, offers a bit more meat and interest—climbing into a bookmobile in the dark; decoding a painted sign—but feels even more dated due to old-fashioned telephone numbers and a librarian (Cindy’s role model) who wants nothing more than to be asked on a date.
White bread. Consider Jane O’Connor’s Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth (2012) instead. (Mystery. 7-10)