Published May 16th 2017 by HarperCollins
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Detectives’ Row is full of talented investigators, but Toby Montrose isn’t one of them. He’s only an assistant at his uncle’s detective agency, and he’s not sure he’s even very good at that. Toby’s friend Ivy is the best sleuth around—or at least she thinks so. They both see their chance to prove themselves when the famed Hugh Abernathy announces a contest to choose the World’s Greatest Detective. But when what was supposed to be a game turns into a real-life murder mystery, can Toby and Ivy crack the case?
Caroline Carlson introduces us to ten-year-old Toby Montrose, a young boy who has been struggling to find his place in the world for several years. Since his parents disappeared during a boating outing, Toby has been shuttled around from relative to relative, trying to find a permanent home.
Toby’s now on his final relative –Detective Montrose - with an unusual chance to potentially make sure that his place with his uncle is safe. But that involves taking on a mystery as a detective…
There’s a lot to love about The World’s Greatest Detective, beginning with Carlson’s unusual, detective-driven world. There are detectives all over Toby’s town, and Hugh Abernathy seems to be a mix of Sherlock Holmes with a dash of other popular fictional detectives – it was the reference to Hugh’s case “The Fourteen Lemons” that gave it away for me – and it’s fascinating to see how Carlson has incorporated the Holmes/Conan Doyle methodology of solving cases, into her characters.
But outside of that general methodology, Toby’s story is a meaningful one, from beginning to end. It’s logical that he feels an affinity for being a detective, as the disappearance of his parents is one of the greatest mysteries a person can possibly experience. But as he progresses from trying to figure out what happened to his parents, to solving the new mystery that has fallen into his lap, Carlson takes the time to reinforce that sometimes, mysteries are about getting closure and that’s why being a detective is becoming increasingly meaningful to Toby.
Alongside Toby’s journey, Carlson also effortlessly manages to include zippy lines, fun characterizations and even some madcap chases in the course of Toby and friends getting down to the bottom of their mystery. It’s an interactive mystery that readers will want to participate in, and the denouement will undoubtedly have them feeling satisfaction, at a mystery well-solved.
All in all, The World’s Greatest Detective is a delightful, enjoyable read that will make many young readers chuckle, and inspire them to start examining the world with their own hints of curiosity. Highly, highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Caroline Carlson holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is an assistant editor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature at the literary journal Hunger Mountain. Before writing her first book, she worked as a textbook editor and helped to organize the children’s summer reading program at her hometown library. Caroline grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at www.carolinecarlsonbooks.com