Children's Literature Bookshelf

“The World’s Greatest Detective,” by Caroline Carlson. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2017, 351 pages, Grades 3-5.

“The World’s Greatest Detective,” by Caroline Carlson.
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2017, 351 pages, Grades 3-5.

Children have always enjoyed good mysteries and detective stories.  The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series from the 1940s and 1950s were wildly popular.  Youngsters are fascinated by the clues and suspense of these stories. 

Well-written mystery and detective novels keep readers on the edge of their seats.  They want to know the culprit. Was it the butler? In what room did the crime take place?  How did the detective sleuth out the clues? Caroline Carlson has written an amusing detective mystery in which two 11-year-old children are the central characters. The name of this charming title is “The World’s Greatest Detective.” 

Toby Montrose has been recently orphaned. He lives with his detective uncle Gabriel Montrose in the city of Colebridge on a street named Detectives Row. Toby longs to be a sleuth on the crimes his uncle is investigating, and zealously hopes to improve his skills. 

An article about a mail-order extension class on becoming a detective catches his eye. He sends his final 10 dollars to the teacher and receives copies of many criminal cases and a badge as a junior detective. He zealously begins reading the cases and learns many detective tricks.

The world’s greatest detective, Hugh Abernathy, also has an office on Detectives Row. The boy decides to hire Abernathy to see if the great sleuth can discover what really happened to his parents. Ever since their deaths, Toby has been plagued by doubts and fears. Much to his surprise, Abernathy is interested and tells the boy he will look into the case.

Soon after this, Abernathy invites all the important detectives in Colebridge to a weekend at the nearby Webster Estate. Toby wrangles an invitation to the weekend through fraud and arrives at the estate along with the other detectives.   Once there, they are told that a crime will occur at the manor house and the detective solving the case will receive $10,000. 

At the estate, Toby meets Ivy Webster, the daughter of the Websters. Ivy also aspires to become a famous detective and has become an expert at wearing disguises. After the crime is committed, both children form a partnership, Webster and Montrose. The children begin uncovering clues and finally trap the criminal. What happens?

Do Toby and Ivy catch the guilty party? Does it put them in any danger? Why do the children learn that while deception sometimes can help detectives, lying only results in more problems? How do they both show courage and initiative during the investigation? Why do they learn so much about themselves and their friendship while solving the case?  To find out, go to the library and check out this charming story, “The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carlson.

This is a funny and enjoyable story. At the same time, readers will be pleased to see Toby and Ivy’s growing friendship and their character development. They become better people because of the struggles they endure.  

Additionally, readers will laugh at the many humorous escapades of the young detectives. Toby and Ivy think and act like 11-year-olds, which is both comical and endearing. So if you have a youngster in your family who wants to read a junior version of Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this is the book. Of course, you could read it yourself and enjoy it as much I did. It is great fun!

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Terrence Nollen

 

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