Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saxby Smart - Private Detective in The Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane …

Simon Cheshire
Illustrated by R. W. Alley

In The Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane, Saxby Smart requires the help of his friend George “Muddy” Whitehouse, and Isobel “Izzy” Moustique to solve the mystery of the horror house at 13 Deadman’s Lane. The house had been vacant for many years, but had been recently purchased by the parents of a school friend, Jack Wilson. During the renovations a secret scroll was found that claimed a hidden treasure was somewhere in the building. A great deal of history was involved from World War II to Napoleon Bonaparte in solving the mystery of the scroll. The prior owner of the house, Silas Middlewich, built the house in 1837, and appeared to have a reputation of being a very nasty man. In order to solve the mystery, Saxby and his friends had to follow many trails before answers were found. When the truth was discovered, the house Jack’s parent’s bought known as the horror house, became a true historical find. Two other Case Files are included in the book, The Tomb of Death and The Fangs of the Dragon. Each Case File is just as mystifying as the Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane. It should be noted that Saxby Smart is a student and his office is in a tool shed.

In Saxby’s investigations, he includes the reader, as his ‘side-kick’, asking questions throughout creating a rather interactive read. This book was difficult to put down, even for the reviewer to take notes. Mr. Cheshire, the author, has found a primary character and cohorts that are ageless within the middle-grade readers. The black illustrations are right on target for the characters and more so for the pages from Saxby’s notebooks. We can only hope that Cheshire has a third book on the way. In the meantime, grab this and the first book for any bookshelves you may have.

BIBLIO: 2010, Roaring Brook Press, Ages 9 - 12, $15.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Middle-Grade Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-59643-475-2

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 7/8/10

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