Friday, July 19, 2013

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Steve Brixton has a school project to do, and the students are picking slips of paper from a hat to determine their research topics. His best friend gets “detectives.”  This is upsetting, because Steve is obsessed with detectives. His favorite books are the Bailey Brothers mysteries. He practically knows them by heart – and he is planning on being a detective when he grows up. He draws from the hat for his project and gets "early American needlework." Life is so unfair!

He heads reluctantly for the library to start his research, asking the librarian for a reference book on early American needlework. Soon he finds himself with a gun to his head, and he discovers that librarians are actually highly trained crime-fighting intelligence agents – and they think that he is working for the mysterious Mr. E., who sells America's secrets to the highest bidder. Soon Steve is on the lam with everyone chasing him – and all he has is his Brixton Brothers Detective Handbook, his wits, and, luckily, his best friend. 

This one should appeal to kids who have read a few Hardy Boys books and are looking for something a little snappier, with some humor and over-the-top action. Much of the book is a silly parody of Hardy Boys and similar series, but there is enough going on that kids who haven't read many mysteries should still enjoy themselves. I found it a little too extreme for my personal reading taste - I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to a point, but after that it all becomes pretty ridiculous, with people behaving in unbelievable ways. But I doubt most kids will have my issues, and I frequently recommend the series to young readers at my library, who enjoy it.

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (#1 in the Brixton Brothers mystery series) by Mac Barnett (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009)


  1. I believe I remarked that Mac Barnett is occasionally "excessively witty" in this book. I enjoyed the over-the-top-ness (TOTALLY A WORD) but I think I was in the mood for entirely ridiculous and silly. Kind of thinking I might get my parent-child book club to give this one a read.

    1. Definitely a word! This would be a fun choice for a parent/child book club. I'd love to hear how it goes! I agree that it helps to be in the mood for this kind of silly, over-the-top book - and if you are, it would totally hit the spot.


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