Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: It Happened On A Train by Mac Barnett

The fourth book on my reading list of Edgar nominees for Best Juvenile had me reading It Happened On A Train by Mac Barnett, the third in the Brixton Brothers mysteries series. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to follow along, as I hadn't read book one or two, but no worries needed. This book stands nicely on its own.

The story starts with seventh grader Steve Brixton feeling kind of down. He's retired from his PI business (a fun running joke in the book), and is busy throwing out his beloved Bailey Brothers mystery books. Steve's just lost all faith in himself and what he thought the PI business stood for. So when he goes on a field trip by train, he doesn't plan to solve any more mysteries.

Until he meets a pretty (and smart) girl named Claire, and ends up taking on one last case: finding the missing (and very expensive) cars belonging to the rich Vanderdraaks. With help of his best friend Dana, Steve is a true PI, and the book has you turning the pages and laughing at the jokes that are sprinkled throughout. Chase scenes on the train and cool illustrations by Adam Rex make this a fun middle-grade mystery great for the more reluctant reader.

Verdict: Great mystery, a modern take on The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew-type stories. Fun, fast-paced.

Mystery Quotient: 5 out of 5. Solid middle-grade PI story.

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