Friday, February 9, 2018

The Devlin Quick Mysteries - Book Two, Digging for Trouble

Any good sleuth worth their grain of salt loves to dig for clues - and young detective-wannabe Devlin Quick is no exception. Only this time, she's digging for real, as she and her best friend, Katie, are in the badlands of Montana for a week in the summer to help dig for fossils.  When Katie stumbles across a few bones, she and Devlin are hoping they might actually be dinosaur bones. But their hopes are quickly dashed when the bones are switches, and it appears the paleontologist and his assistants are up to no good, it's Devlin Quick on the case!

Digging for Trouble is the second book in his quirky new children's mystery series, and author Linda Fairstein actually gives readers a mystery without beating us over the head with social and political correctness.  This time around, it's just Devlin and her friends solving a mystery.  And I give Fairstein credit on this one - she includes a lot of credible information about a dinosaur dig, but allows it to come across naturally through dialogue and interaction among the characters.  It's also nice to see a writer utilize modern technology without making it overly easy for her sleuth to ferret out the truth.  Devlin uses her cell phone camera, she takes advantage of her mom's position as police chief to utilize police search programs, and she even makes use of a CT scan in an unexpected way that helps her come to a startling revelation about the bones Katie found.

Another great thing about this mystery is that although Devlin has a certain amount of freedom due to her mom's job, she is still responsible enough to always let a grown-up know what's going on (even if they don't believe her) and calls them for help when she's in trouble.  It's also nice to see Devlin depend more on her friend, Booker, who plays a large part in the mystery once Katie and Devlin return to New York - where, interestingly enough, most of the mystery and the action takes place.  And even I learned something new from this book - apparently the Museum in New York hosts sleepovers for children!  I thought that Devlin's plan to surprise her best friend with a sleepover at the museum (which was actually a cover to allow her and Booker to investigate) was simply something made up by the author - but a quick look at the American Museum of Natural History's website reveals that they do indeed host sleepovers, and not just for children - adults have their own special sleepover nights as well!

While there is not a  lot of danger, per se, until the very end when Devlin confronts the culprit responsible for the theft of Katie's dinosaur bones, the mystery is still quite engaging as Devlin follows up on clues, goes with her gut-instinct, and doesn't ignore her suspicions.  The author fills the book with more than enough characters, most of whom were introduced in the first book, but some we meet for the first time (such as Kyle, the boy that Katie likes out in Montana) and Ling Soo (one of the college students on the dinosaur dig who I hope we see again in future mysteries).

Plus, let's face it - anyone who dedicates her book to Nancy Drew and Joe and Frank Hardy "who taught me everything I needed to know about sleuthing" - well, that pretty much says it all.  (Of course, that's not the only Nancy Drew reference - on page 33, when talking about Devlin, Katie tells Ling that "She thinks she's a detective.  Dev carries that [magnifying glass] almost everywhere she goes because that's what Nancy Drew did."

ONE LAST NOTE - I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, as with so many books published today, there was an editing snafu - on page 4, the author talks about the backyard belonging to the Cion family - but instead of saying "Cions' backyard," she refers to it as "Cion's backyard" (meaning one person's backyard, not an entire family's backyard).  And while only one missed grammatical error may not seem like much, it is just an unpleasant reminder of the lack of true editing in today's book market.

RATING:  9 ninety-four foot long blue whales out of 10 for improving on the quality of the mystery and the quirkiness of the young detective, all the while keeping it fun and engaging!

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