Monday 7 May 2012

Monday Musings: Book Review of Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye by Chelsea M Campbell

Harper knew he shouldn't take the case. The chances of winning were low, the people he was up against were scary, and if he lost, it could cost him his card. But when Danigail, the dame in trouble was an old friend, what else could he do? He just needs to hope he doesn't end up like the chess club guy...

This is a film noir style plot thrown into a Junior High school, and author Chelsea M Campbell has an absolute blast with the juxtaposition. The bad guys are the PTA, the long-suffering 'official' who Madigan rubs the wrong way is Vice Principal Martin Dodge, and the strait-laced partner who has to try and deal with Madigan's unorthodox ways is a new kid who wants to be a journalist foisted on him by Dodge.

Madigan's voice here is outstanding. He reads perfectly - exactly as you'd expect a kid who's set himself up as an investigator in a broken down janitor's closet to talk. His dark past, in which something happened to Danigail's brother, is revealed slowly and finding out what went on is compelling. There's also some fabulous world-building, with some neat little touches as we find out more about the PTA and the way they rule the school with a rod of iron.

If there's a criticism, it's that the ending seems slightly off. Things do get resolved, but it seems slightly implausible. Despite this, it's a recommended read if you're looking for a really funny book.

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