Wilma Tenderfoot is an orphaned girl who lives on Cooper Island in the Lowside Institute for Woeful Children. She dreams of escape and of becoming the apprentice of the detective Theodore P. Goodman, whose every case she slavishly follows in the newspaper.
Her chance comes when she is sent to skivvy for an eccentric old woman who happens to live next door to Theodore P. Goodman himself. In her enthusiasm to help him solve the mystery of the Frozen Hearts she becomes mixed up in all kinds of off the wall and highly dangerous escapades.
Wilma is an appealing heroine and the book is an amusing cross between Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' series, in which terrible things happen in a witty manner to resourceful children, complete with dictionary definitions of complex ideas and words, and Sherlock Holmes.
There is a lot of very daft humour in this book, such as people with intensely smelly feet, people who wish to name jewels after pickled onions and size obsessed evil villains, which means it will appeal to children hugely and make them laugh out loud. And enough gruesome moments with autopsies, death by poisoned blow pipes and buckets of brains to make them shiver deliciously. I look forward to the next in the series.