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Shirley Link & The Safe Case Kindle Edition
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The mystery here is somewhere between the Encyclopedia Brown books and, say, Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes books. I've always found Brown to be a very flat and uninteresting character, with no interesting secondary characters to speak of at all. Sammy Keyes is entertaining, but they might be for an older crowd, since they usually feature some personal drama or problem along with the mystery. So, we have a very comfortable niche for Shirley Link in that big overlooked middle
And this book does give us an interesting and engaging heroine. Sometimes she's taken right up to the edge of too full of herself, but she always manages to reel herself in before becoming too obnoxious. Plus, I think that's the risk you take when your character is full of snappy patter and snarky insight, and I think most middle graders would rather have a character who's a little too much rather than one who's a bit too little. It helps that the book is seasoned with two associate/friends who get some good lines of their own, even if they do have to stay second bananas. It's also particularly appealing that both of Shirley Link's parents are sharp cookies in their own right. I'm getting tired of parents who are cyphers or dopes or even worse, and its refreshing to have parents here who ask the right questions and give good advice and guidance.
And, some of the middle-grade-hard-boiled dialogue really is very funny, and very well aimed at the middle grade sensibility. It reminds me of the Chet Gecko school mysteries by Bruce Hale, (which are broader and punnier considering that all of the middle school students in those books are animals and that Chet Gecko actually is a gecko, with a mockingbird assistant).
So, you have an engaging personality in your hero, a decent mystery, solid writing craftsmanship, better than average dialogue, and a bit of attitude. Not bad at all.
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