And…here’s another audio review! It’s a mystery this time, from a popular author of fantasy adventure books. I was actually expecting some kind of fantasy element in this one, but it’s a straightforward follow-the-clues-to-the-end mystery. And a good one!
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Fletcher Moon is a private detective. He’s seen it all, heard it all, is a little world-weary…and he’s only in seventh grade. It’s not easy to train to be a detective at such a young age, but Fletcher got his degree online, from the Bernstein Academy in Washington, D.C.. Of course, he had to use his father’s name and ID to get certified, since there was an age requirement. But Fletcher and his father share the same name and birthdate, so it was pretty easy to do. He’s probably the only seventh grader in Ireland, maybe even the world, who has completed the requirements for the Bernstein private detective certification and received the highly prized silver private detective badge. Fletcher has used his qualifications for good, solving cases and bringing justice to his fellow students at Saint Jerome’s Elementary and Middle School.
Because of his successful solve rate, Fletcher’s reputation has spread around the school. So it’s no surprise when one of his elementary school informants comes to get him to help break up a wrestling match caused by a theft. Herod Sharkey, the youngest member of the infamous Sharkey crime family, has been accused of stealing the fancy new computer organizer of Bella Barnes, the biggest girl in the elementary school. There’s even a witness; April Devereaux, the wealthiest girl in the school (as well as the one most likely to wear pink.) Fletcher follows the clues and finds the organizer. It looks like an open and shut case until Red Sharkey, Herod’s older brother and Fletcher’s classmate, gets involved. In spite of the witness and the general reputation of his brother, Red claims his brother is innocent and has been framed. Red threatens Fletcher, and warns him to shut down his detective agency.
But then April Devereaux puts Fletcher on retainer to investigate the entire Sharkey family and their connection with some odd crimes at the school and around town. Fletcher is at first reluctant, but then intrigued once he starts looking into the case. Are the Sharkey’s really behind all the crimes? Or will his trail lead to someone else? Fletcher enlists his allies, his informants and even an enemy or two to follow the dangerous trail to a surprising conclusion…and a new view on detective work.
Sean Patrick Reilly’s narration of Half Moon Investigations has the appropriately hard-boiled tone down for this first-person narration. I loved his Irish accent too. The “film noir” tone continues throughout the story, with musical breaks between the chapters. The kids in the story all have slightly different voices, and the adults sound completely different.
The story is populated by a huge amount of characters with genuine character…crooks with hearts of gold, police inspectors who are more patient than a whole realm of teachers, and lots of kids with different ideas about school, life and honesty.
Half Moon Investigations was a fun CD to listen to in the car. I enjoyed trying to follow the clues along with Fletcher, and worrying about the red herrings thrown in his path. I have had several families tell me that Half Moon Investigations was their favorite CD ever. I would recommend the book to readers in fourth through sixth grade. The audio recording could be enjoyed by the whole family. Adults will enjoy the Philip Marlowe-type narration, while younger listeners will just enjoy the mystery, the story and the colorful characters.