April 12, 2014

[Book Review] The Castle Crime (A to Z Mysteries: Super Edition #6) by Ron Roy


Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose travel to London, England for their first-ever adventure overseas. They are thrilled to see Big Ben, ride the London Eye, and tour Madame Tussauds wax museum. Then big news hits--someone has stolen Queen Elizabeth's jewels right outside Windsor Castle! The kids head to the castle to check around for clues. But can three kids from Green Lawn possibly find evidence that Scotland Yard has missed?



To preface this review, I'd like to point out that this is the one and only A to Z Mysteries book I haven't read multiple times; it's a relatively new release, and today's my first time reading it. Mostly, I'm satisfied. I'm not in love with it--its earns its golden stars simply by being a continuation of one of my favorite childhood memories--but it's a fairly entertaining mystery. On the other hand, I have a few gripes.

First and foremost, its outcome is obviously every bit as expected as most children's mysteries. While it may surprise the small children in the reading audience, older kids and adults will likely (and should in the adults' case) see all the twists and turns coming well before they're revealed. That's usual for the series, and I'm certainly not put off by it. It's a children's mystery, after all; nothing mind-blowing.

On the other hand, it's the second-most egregious violator of my suspension of disbelief in the series, after The Kidnapped King. I can put aside my "that would never happen" complaints when the trio is catching criminals in Green Lawn, or even New York or San Francisco. Because when they do that, they usually have a reason; either a friend has asked them to help or they've witnessed a crime or something else happened to make them part of the story. But in both The Kidnapped King and The Castle Crime, the kids solve mysteries involving friggin' royalty--real royalty, in the case of Castle--and I'm supposed to just go with it. It kind of bothers me, honestly. There's no reason for Sammi to come to live with the Duncans in King and there's no reason for Queen Elizabeth II to get all palsy-walsy with a couple of kids from Connecticut in Castle.

But I'm sure a small child will have no such complaints; I didn't when I first read The Kidnapped King as an elementary school student. So it's good for what it is; an entertaining mystery with enough clues sprinkled throughout to entertain the young sleuths in the audience. And it does address one of my complaints: Dink's father, at least, has been getting a lot more pagetime in these Super Edition books. Now if only his mother or Ruth Rose's parents could do something useful. (Josh's parents are more significant characters in the Calendar Mysteries books that star his younger twin brothers, Brian and Bradley.)

One last complaint, though: whoever wrote this blurb isn't as familiar with the series as he or she claims to be. The Castle Crime is definitely not "their first-ever adventure overseas"; they went to Costra, a fictional island in the Indian Ocean, in The Yellow Yacht. It is, however, their first time visiting a real-world foreign country.

Anyway, I'd like to see Roy write more A to Z Mysteries books in the future. After the three-year gap between this and The New Year Dragon Dilemma, I'd thought he'd given the series a rest. I'm glad to see he hasn't, and I hope he won't.

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