Author: Even Munday
Series: The Dead Kid Detective Agency #1
Published: September 1 2011
Length: 320 pages
Warnings: Comical fantasy mild threat 9+
Summary: Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher, she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and so when beloved French teacher dies in a suspicious car accident, it provides the agency with its first bona fide case, putting them in the midst of a murder plot thick with car chases, cafeteria fights, and sociopathic math teachers, and sending them on an adventure that might just uncover the truth about a bomb that exploded 40 years ago.
Review: October Scwartz has moved to Sticksville and knows absolutely nobody. The year is set to be a boring one for an outcast like her...and then her favourite French teacher, Mr O Shea, mysteriously dies. Is killed. Mulling over the mystery while in the local graveyard, somehow she summons up a group of child-ghosts. After a bit of conversation, these dead children agree to, while they still walk on earth i.e. for the next month, have a go at helping October find the killer.
This is a typical mystery for the younger audience, with a few paranormal elements on the side. The plot isn’t the most complex of things, but is still fun to watch develop and go along with.
It’s often hard to believe that October is only thirteen. Sometimes she seems much more mature, and sometimes she seems so much younger. It’s actually quite hard to place her age, if you aren’t explicitly told. Or maybe it’s just me.
The pacing was alright. At the start, I couldn’t see where any of it was going. About a third of a way through though, we had a mystery built and the detectives had been introduced. From then on, it’s fun and a good ride. It didn’t keep me especially hooked though. I could put it down without feeling bad about it.
I’d like to say I enjoyed the writing, but I didn't. While there were the occasional comments aimed directly at you, something I quite like, especially when they’re witty, like they were in The Dead Kid Detective Agency, there were many chapters where my understanding was non-existant. Why? The switching perspective. Now, I’m all for multiple points of view. When you are clear on who is speaking. Switching perspectives halfway through a chapter, or once, a sentence? No, no no.
Despite this, I liked this, and the originality it brings to the younger readers’ market.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a fun paranormal mystery for the younger readers.