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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 05/2022
  • 9798201049850 B09Y2JPJFM
  • 82 pages
  • $4.99
Ruby Fink
Author
Mickie McKinney: Boy Detective, The Case of the Absent Answers
R.L. Fink, author

Middle Grade; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Mickie McKinney is Maple Ridge Middle School's one and only private detective. (Not that anyone else wanted the title). So when the new girl, Sam Hayes is blamed for stealing the answers for the history test, he is the only one willing to step in an help. Aided by the intellectual know-how of Burners, the school mad scientist, and a few tips and tricks from his late father, Mickie is able to track down the real thief of the absent answers. And make a new friend along the way.
Reviews
Mickie McKinney isn’t your average middle schooler. Along with the usual classes, homework, and school lunches, Mickie has a lucrative side hustle as a detective, and his chosen currency for payment just so happens to be candy bars. When a new girl arrives and immediately starts stirring things up, Mickie takes on his most difficult case yet, defending her against accusations of cheating–and discovering why test answers turned up in her backpack. Saturated in noir references, even down to Mickie’s narration style, and accompanied by Antony Wooten’s simple yet expressive black and white illustrations throughout the chapters, Mickie McKinney: Boy Detective offers a strong start to this appealing mystery series for the middle grade set.

In the kid-detective tradition, Fink sets out the clues that invite readers to solve the case alongside Mickie. That choice, along with the short length, ensures that the plot moves along quickly but also somewhat predictably. But young mystery lovers or aspiring detectives will appreciate the chance to game it out as well as the thoroughness of Mickie’s investigation: even when he immediately has a hunch as to who stole the test answers, he makes sure to find evidence to fully prove he’s right, which he explains is the hallmark of a true detective.

Though he sometimes seems mature for a middle schooler, Mickie is a likable and funny character who we learn more about as the story progresses, and the importance of his father—whom Mickie often quotes—strengthens readers’ understanding of why Mickie is a boy detective to begin with. He’s surrounded by lively, singular friends, such as Burners, a kid science genius, and the new girl, who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Fink manages to deliver a relatable mystery with plenty of humor and takes the time to develop depth of character in not only Mickie, but the accused as well.

Takeaway: Young mystery fans will delight in solving the case with Mickie in this fun and funny middle school whodunnit.

Great for fans of: Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries series, Mac Barnett’s Brixton Brothers series.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B

Matt McAvoy

I enjoy reading children’s stories from time to time; they are a good way to mix up the genres and spend your time on something a little less serious.  But they have to be done well, especially if by an adult author.  And this one is; it is a good, enjoyable read, and a worthy opener to a promising series of books for pre-teen kids.  R.L. Fink does a great job of creating an interesting mystery, with some fun elements.  And, best of all for me, there are some brilliant illustrations by Antony Wootten.  Whilst I felt the story could have perhaps been a touch more involved and clever, it is admirable that the focus for Fink is on creating discussion points for readers; in that respect there are clearly intended moral lessons in the tale.  I did find one element confusing, and I believe Fink touches on this in the appendix questions, but I wasn’t sure what year the book was supposed to be set; I assumed it was a modern tale, but then the children begin talking about their parents being overseas in Germany and Japan, which of course hints at a wartime fable; Mickie’s trademark hat, too, is perhaps a clue in this respect.  This, of course, may imply a more profound underlying backstory to these kids; I just personally hope that Fink doesn’t take the characters too deeply into any respective backstory.

 

 

I really liked the play on the noir detective genre; Mickie as a gumshoe, trading his services for candy, but given a modern twist, in that the damsel in distress saves the day with her fists.  This is all good, innocent fun, and Fink appears to be creating a great little team of amateur sleuths.  It’s always nice to read a book which is about childhood in the moment, and whether you are a young reader or an adult, I think you’ll find something appealing about this pretty good instalment to a series of books which I think is going to great.

 

 

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 05/2022
  • 9798201049850 B09Y2JPJFM
  • 82 pages
  • $4.99

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