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Friday, March 19, 2010

New Sleuths on the Block: The Milo and Jazz Mysteries by Lewis B. Montgomery

Life is full of mystery--if you know how to observe. Keep a sharp eye out for anything strange or unusual. You never know when your next case will fall into your lap...
---Dash Marlowe, Super Sleuth

Milo is thrilled when he finally receives Dash Marlowe's free Super-Sleuth Kit--as advertised in Whodunnit Magazine. There's some really cool stuff inside--rear-view sunglasses for surveilling suspects behind him, a pocket notebook, and a pair of invisible-ink pens with ultraviolet decoder lights. And as soon as he figures out that he has to use the special pen light to read his first lesson, printed in invisible ink, he's ready to go out to find and solve his first case. But it seems that FINDING his first case IS Milo's first case!

Luckily for him, Milo's quest is soon joined by his classmate Jasmyne (a.k.a. Jazz,) an assertive, girl gumshoe wannabe, who soon comes up with his first client--her teen brother, star baseball pitcher "Thrillin' Dylan," whose lucky gym socks have apparently been snitched. Dylan is convinced that those never-washed socks have powered his pitching through the season and that their arch rivals the Eagles have swiped the stinky socks to make sure that lackluster backup pitcher Tim will sub for Dylan in their upcoming game.

Milo and Jazz begin their investigation by questioning possible witnesses in the locker room. A bit of ratiocination involving mirror images of the name on the back of a team jacket soon leads the junior sleuths to the perpetrator of the purloined socks in time for Dylan to take the mound and save the big game, and the young detectives are ready for their next Dash Marlowe lesson and their next case.

Now that author Ron Roy has written himself right through all twenty-four letters in his popular A to Z Mysteries series, beginning chapter mystery fans who are looking around for a similar set of sleuth stories will do well to start with Lewis B. Montgomery's The Case of the Stinky Socks (Milo and Jazz Mysteries) (Kane Press, 2009). Nicely and profusely illustrated by Amy Wummer's nifty drawings, this series offers well-differentiated characters and homey settings as well as realistic cases and believable clues for readers wanting to try out their powers of observation along the way.

Included is an appealing appendix which offers detective-style brainteasers and trial cases for young Sherlocks to practice their skills on before they go on to the next titles in this promising series, which already includes The Case of the Poisoned Pig (Milo and Jazz Mysteries), The Case of the Haunted Haunted House (Milo and Jazz Mysteries), and The Case of the Amazing Zelda (Milo and Jazz Mysteries).

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