I have this thing with buying random children’s mysteries. I think it’s a homage to my mystery-absorbed childhood. I still get genuinely excited when I find a kid’s mystery. Is that strange, or what?
McGurk’s dying! Or, at least, that’s what he wants the other detectives at McGurk Organization to believe. He’s in the throes of a deathly illness and will never recover…
Err, actually he does. But in the doctor who attended on his near-fatal case, McGurk found several points of inspiration. First off, the doctor knew gobs of stuff about that great detective Sherlock Holmes, and regaled McGurk with his exploits. And that’s how it happens that at the next meeting of the McGurk Detectives, McGurk is fitted out in an oversized dressing gown and scraping on an out-of-tune fiddle. Grief what an ego that kid has!
But a real life mystery develops when the gang finds what appears to be a map hidden inside the fiddle. From there, the gang must work back to figure out who the original owner of the fiddle was – and what he could possibly have hidden…
McGurk. Oh, McGurk. What can I say. You are no Sherlock Holmes, but the more you pretend to be him, the funnier you are. Giving detailed description of the client knocking at the door then back-pedaling when it turns out to be a stray dog. Chiding your fellow members that their powers of observation are getting rusty because they called the dragons on your oversized housecoat dinosaurs. I loved this scene, in which the gang examines the map.
McGurk paused with his hand on the basement door – “it has to be someplace nearby.” He pushed open the door. The dressing gown must have caught his eye, because he added: “Elementary, my dear Bellingham!”
“Yes, Sherlock!” said Brains, a bit snappishly.
But McGurk didn’t even hear him. He was too busy wrapping that dressing gown around himself – street clothes and all. The he picked up the scrap of paper and began pacing up and down, frowning at it.
Naturally, we were just as eager to take another look at it. So we clustered around and paced with him, until Willie tripped on the trailing edge of the gown and sent us sprawling in a heap – officers and dragons together. [pg. 57]
The case itself isn’t quite up to Sherlock Holmes level, but it’s not bad as far as children’s mysteries go. While I foresaw some of the twists, others did surprise me.
‘Gee’ is used three times, and ‘gosh’ twice.
Conclusion. Great fun for young readers.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret