Author: Lisa Orchard
Release date: March 13, 2012
Published by: Astraea PressMy rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sarah and her sister Lacey are spending summer vacation in Michigan with their aunt and uncle. Being from the big city, Sarah is afraid she’ll be bored. However, she quickly makes friends with a girl named Jackie, and on the second day of their friendship Sarah is dared to knock on the Cat Lady’s door. Did you know that the Cat Lady is a scary witch?
Well, Sarah’s summer starts off with a bang when she accepts this dare, only to discover the Cat Lady lying dead on the floor of her home. But that’s not the worst of it! Moments after the girls discover the body, the police show up. The girls are hauled into the police station for questioning and are placed on the short list of suspects for the murder by an overzealous Officer Klonsky.
Now Sarah, Lacey, and Jackie must figure out who the real killer is. Will they clear their names? Catch the real killer? OR Will the real killer catch them first?
The focus of this story is on the mystery plot. Lisa Orchard does a nice job of moving the Super Spies from one ill-conceived caper to another! The voice of this mystery harkens back to Nancy Drew—who I loved as a kid. The mystery is well-constructed within the story. Clues lead to bigger clues, and I was just as curious as the Super Spies when it came to figuring out motive and facing the outcome! Moments of danger add a little spice and fast-paced action to the plot. I also enjoyed Sarah’s drive to find the true killer and seek justice.
The only thing that I didn’t really like was that sometimes redundant dialogue affected the pace of the plot, which is too bad because I really enjoyed the story line itself. Some of the conversations that had basic chatter needed to allow the reader to make inferences.
Sarah has a big heart and a hankering to solve mysteries. Jackie is a fun-loving fashionista who is up for anything, and she works as a counter point to the sisters’ squabbling (which is true-to-form but did get a little annoying after a while). Because of these characters, I would recommend the story to upper middle grade students.
Character development—weak at first. I really struggled to connect with the Super Spies gang: Sarah, Jackie, and Lacey. I wanted to better understand Sarah’s motivation to be a detective; I got bits and pieces and understood a little better by the end, but I guess for my personal taste I prefer more detailed character development in the beginning. I might have also gotten more into Jackie and Sarah’s friendship—it was cute but felt rushed at first. By the end, I felt a little more connected and hope that in the second book, the Super Spies continue to develop :)
There were times I felt the girls were a little melodramatic and made poor decisions, but then I had to remind myself that they were three girls in their early teens…Hehe!
This is a mystery that any middle grade girl would enjoy. And I do plan on reading the second story because Lisa Orchard does have a knack for an interesting mystery!