“Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity,” by Mac Bennett, illustrated by Adam Rex.
Simon and Shuster, New York, 2009, 179 pages, Grades 3-5.
Fifty years ago, children used to read the Hardy Boys adventures. These stories were characterized by action and adventure. Being a popular series, the Hardy Boys were meant to entertain readers. No attempt was made to turn them into “great” literature.
They were immensely popular with young readers. The Nancy Drew books also had great popularity at the same time. Mac Bennett has taken this genre of writing and updated it with a new series named The Brixton Brothers. They take the clever and interesting plot structure of the former adventure books and place them in a contemporary setting. “The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity” is book one in the series. And no, that’s not a typo: the name of the title is exactly as Mac Bennett published it.
Steve Brixton, age 12, longs to be a detective and solve mysteries and crimes. To achieve this, he has read numerous crime magazines and built a secret box to hold all of his crime solving tools.
Additionally, he has sent away for a detective badge with his imprinted photograph. He is confident in his abilities and yearns for some event that would allow him to use his sharpened skills. This wish is fulfilled rapidly.
At the end of school on Friday, Steve’s teacher, Ms. Gilfeather walks through the class with a hat full of essay topics. The students reach into the hat and choose. Steve’s best friend Dana picks a slip with the word “detectives.” When Steve reaches in, he pulls out “American needlepoint.” Ms. Gilfeather wishes them good luck and dismisses the class.
“American Needlepoint!” Steve wants to be a detective, not a seamstress. Not knowing what else to do, he trudges down to the library and looks up needlepoint. There is only one book in the library on the subject. He writes down the call number and takes the book to the circulation desk.
By accident, Steve shows his detective card instead of his library card. The librarian, Ms. Bundt scans the detective card with alarm. Suddenly the lights go dark in the library. A group of masked men rush into the library, looking for Steve. Ms. Bundt disappears. Frightened, Steve tries to remember what the characters in the detective magazines do when cornered. He recalls that they say to hide above eye level. He quickly removes some books and climbs on a shelf. The men, wearing face paint and carrying guns search for him. Trapped, Steve breaks out of the library with the gang in hot pursuit. Guns are fired and he runs to Dana’s house. Maybe the two friends can solve this dangerous case. What do they do?
Do the men catch the boys? What is so dangerous that causes this pursuit? Why are posters printed by the government agents charging Steve with treason? Can the boys outfox the federal agents? Why do thieves suddenly join the search? Is Ms. Gilfeather really naïve and innocent? To find out, go to the library and read this rollicking adventure story, “The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity” by Mac Bennett.
This book is great fun. Steve thinks and acts like a 12-year-old and some of his solutions to the clues in the story are hilarious. Adventurous children will love this story. Adults wanting a fun book with lots of laughs will enjoy it as well. I hope you get a chance to go to the library and check out this title. You will find it a pleasant experience. Enjoy!