by Mac Barnett is the first in a series of new mystery novels for middle-grade readers. This book is different from most kids’ mysteries because it is firmly a tongue-in-cheek look at the popular genre. Filled with humor and irony, Brixton Brothers is an obvious send-up of the Hardy Boys.
Steve Brixton is obsessed with The Bailey Brothers and especially with The Bailey Brothers Detective Handbook:
The Bailey Brothers, of course, were the sons of world-famous detective Harris Bailey. They helped their dad solve his toughest cases, and they had all sorts of dangerous adventures, and these adventures were the subject of the fifty-eight shiny red volumes that made up the Bailey Brothers Mysteries, also by MacArthur Bart. Numbers two through fifty-nine on Steve Brixton’s list of the Fifty-Nine Greatest Books of All Time were taken up by the Bailey Brothers Mysteries.
Sound familiar? Like so many kids through the past decades have wanted to be just like the Hardy Boys, Steve Brixton wants to solve mysteries like the Bailey Brothers, and he has even sent away for his own Bailey Brothers Detective License. This weekend, though, Steve has a much duller assignment: to write a report for English class. He’s at the library, checking out a boring book on American quilting, when he’s suddenly pulled into the middle of a top-secret case of treason against the US government. Unbelievably, Steve finds himself being chased by secret agents, crooks, and even the police who somehow think he is some sort of criminal mastermind.
The book is filled with the action and adventure expected in kids’ mysteries while also gently poking fun at them. It includes excerpts from Bailey Brothers books as Steve applies his extensive knowledge of the series to his current predicament. Several plot twists are a bit far-fetched but that’s all part of the fun, too. Illustrations by Adam Rex, reminiscent of those in the original Hardy Boys’ books, add another element of humor.
I enjoyed the book very much, and I think that kids who maybe have outgrown the Hardy Boys will enjoy it, too. It will appeal to those who like both mysteries and humor and who have an appreciation for irony.
179 pages, Simon & Schuster