THE TREASURE OF DEAD MAN’S LANE AND OTHER CASE FILES

SAXBY SMART: PRIVATE DETECTIVE, BOOK 2

Middle-grader Saxby Smart is back in his Thinking Chair for three more stories in this second volume of his mystery series (The Curse of the Ancient Mask and Other Case Files, 2009). Speaking congenially to readers, Saxby invites them to help deduce the clues. In the first case, Saxby must find a rare comic book that’s gone missing from a locked safe, and he uncovers lots of interesting comic-book trivia in the process of discovering the motive—old-fashioned greed—and the perp. The middle is the most engrossing of the three stories, involving an historic mansion with a dark past where Saxby’s friend finds a scroll hidden in the wall that leads them on a brain-teasing hunt to the real “Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane.” Last, Saxby must unravel the enigma of six students who all have two things in common: home intruders and an anti-stress class. Troublemaker Harry Lovecraft makes a reappearance, and his uncle plays a key role in the mystery. Generously dappled with Alley’s breezy line drawings, the cases are timely and twisting enough to keep the light bulb bright in the young sleuth’s mind. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-475-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An exciting story of school life, friends, and bullies that becomes a quick meditation on the promise and dangers of modern...

FUZZY MUD

When fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh-grader Marshall Walsh cut through the woods to avoid school bully Chad Hilligas, they unwittingly set off a chain of events that threatens global catastrophe.

What exactly is that pool of mud that Tamaya notices in the woods—gooey, tarlike muck with a sheen of fuzzy, yellow-brown scum on top? Whatever it is, it comes in handy when Chad attacks Tamaya and Marshall, and Tamaya scoops up a handful and shoves it into his face. But that evening, she notices a terrible rash on her hands, and Chad doesn’t show up for school the next day. Revealed in interspersed testimony from secret Senate hearings is the fact that scientists have been researching Biolene, a viable alternative to gasoline using artificial, high-energy microorganisms. The threat of mutations and “frankengerms” had been considered negligible, but now a walk in the woods has led to the quarantine of the whole Pennsylvania town as an epidemic has spread, the airport and railroad stations have been closed, and the Pennsylvania National Guard has been called in. Sachar’s tale is slim, as is the delineation of character and setting, but the fast-paced plot and enough science to give the illusion of substance will have readers racing through the pages.

An exciting story of school life, friends, and bullies that becomes a quick meditation on the promise and dangers of modern science. (Speculative fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-74378-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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