Monday, December 10, 2007

The Invisible Detective: Double Life by Justin Richards

The Invisible Detective is the guise of 14 year-old Art who, along with several friends, solves minor mysteries around his neighborhood. Their newest mystery is that of disappearing people and a bizarre exhibition of mechanical puppets. This mystery is not minor – indeed Art and his gang find themselves in serious danger as they try to figure out what has happened to the people who have disappeared.

In the present day, Arthur Drake has found the casebook of the Invisible Detective. The handwriting looks like his own, though the Invisible Detective lived in the 1930’s and there is no way that it can be he who wrote it.

I was really excited to get the Invisible Detective books – the covers are wonderful and I thought I’d be enthralled with them. Unfortunately, I found the cover of Double Life to be the best thing about it. Except for the cover it didn’t seem firmly set in its time frame – I think it would have been better written as a Victorian mystery. I also had a difficult time with jumps back and forth in time. I didn’t really feel that that the present-day storyline was necessary; instead it caused the book to be choppy.

Last week one of my students returned the book House of Stairs. Since I had recommended the book to her, I was curious to find out what she thought of it. Her reply – “It just didn’t hold my interest” – was frustrating. She couldn’t tell me exactly what she didn’t like about it, just that she didn’t enjoy it. That’s how I felt about Double Life.

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