A preteen detective solves an important case with an unusual partner.
Ollie Oxley is not pleased about moving again, but his mom’s new job at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California, may provide some form of permanence. After moving so many times, Ollie’s friend-making skills are a bit rusty, but it isn’t too long before he finds a pal in Teddy. But Teddy isn’t like most 12-year-olds. First off, Teddy is a ghost, a ghost of a boy who lived during the Gold Rush. The two friends tangle with the school bully and solve a mystery that will save the Bing and (more importantly) keep Ollie’s mom’s job. The novel is light and breezy, moving forward at a quick clip. Readers may bump up against Ollie’s snark-filled attitude at first, but the author provides just enough reason for the character’s hard edges before sanding them down. Teddy’s character is a bit more interesting, and readers might find themselves wondering how the story would seem from his perspective. While there’s nothing here that bucks any trends, the novel remains a well-built work: smartly structured with enough character work to hold interest and a solid mystery that springs like a well-coiled mousetrap. Readers fascinated by ghost stories and mysteries and even history will find that this scratches those particular itches. The book adheres to the white default.
A sturdy mystery with engaging sleuths. (Supernatural mystery. 8-12)