Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 179
Source of Book: Bought the paperback from Scholastic Book Clubs
Whodunit?I really enjoyed Kim Harrington's young adult debut book, CLARITY, also a mystery book, so when I saw that she had a middle grades mystery series also, I made sure to get it right away. Part of the reason is that so many of my students liked CLARITY also, so it's always nice to have a favorite author in the classroom, but also because some of my students aren't ready for the maturity of the young adult book yet, so I was hopeful that the SLEUTH OR DARE series would be a good fit for my other readers, and I'm sure it will be.
When best friends Darcy and Norah have to create a fake business for a school assignment, they come up with a great idea: a detective agency! Darcy loves mysteries, and Norah likes helping people, so it's a perfect fit.
But then their pretend agency gets a real case. Someone is missing, and it's up to Darcy and Norah to take on the search. Unfortunately, there's someone else out there who doesn't want the two detectives stirring up any trouble. . . .
With the help of hidden clues, spy gadgets, and trusted friends, can Darcy and Norah crack the case in time?
PARTNERS IN CRIME is a perfectly middle grades book. The writing level and complexity of the subplots and main mystery are all right in that sweet spot. The mystery was a bit obvious to me, but again, I'm not the age or ability level of the intended audience. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book at all though. One thing that is really nice is that the mystery is such that it's a great fit for younger middle grades students who want to try mystery but aren't ready yet for more complex novels.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this book. There was quite a bit about their relationships with their families, and the arc the characters take to accepting and appreciating their own families is a nice message. In addition, the two main characters are not the popular girls, but instead each have their own interests aligned with their intelligence and abilities. It's nice to see a story with these characters who are into astronomy and technology being the strong leaders of the book, and even though they're not popular, they still have good relationships and confidence in themselves. There are some subplots relating to bullying and typical middle school dynamics that are handled well also.
Once again Harrington has struck just the right voice. The book is written with a strong female lead and in such a way that it sounds like she's talking right to the reader. This allows us to get insights into what's happening, but also stay fully engaged in the story. Overall PARTNERS IN CRIME is a fun, quick mystery with heart. I look forward to reading the next two books in the series: SLEEPOVER STAKEOUT and FRAMED & DANGEROUS and handing these off to my students.