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Ruby Fink
Mickie McKinney: Boy Detective, Connections in Chemistry
R.L. Fink, author

Middle Grade; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

After a week of nothing, things are going seriously weird at Maple Ridge Middle School. First, Jamie “Burners” Burns, is asked to be the substitute teacher for the chemistry class, then the class experiments go horribly wrong...and it isn't Mickie's fault. The new man in charge, Principal Morgan, wants to pin the blame on the school's girl genius but Mickie is certain that someone else is behind the whole thing. With only a couple mysterious substances left behind as clues, a strange school-wide computer problem and an alliance with the school's reporter, AJ Harris, do Mickie and Sam have enough to clear Burners once and for all? Can Maple Ridge Middle School's detecting duo prove that there is a different culprit behind the accidents? And catch the real wrong-doer before it's too late?
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The story unfolds through entertaining snippets—much like cozy diary entries—of the central protagonist, Mickie McKinney, a voluntary sleuth trying to ferret out what’s going on at Maple Ridge Middle School.

Prose: The writing style is informal, straightforward, and perfectly complements the age of the intended audience. Fink combines playfulness, humor, and some serious investigating to deliver a delightful story.

Originality: There are plenty of creative elements here, along with a few familiar tropes. Fink nicely carries off both the unique storytelling details and the more tried-and-true ones. 

Character/Execution: Mickie is as amusing as he is determined to prove the innocence of his peer, Jamie “Burners” Burns. His drive is endearing, as is his unconditional self-confidence, and Burners is a worthy sidekick.

Date Submitted: June 29, 2023