cover image Howard Wallace, P.I.

Howard Wallace, P.I.

Casey Lyall. Sterling, $14.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4549-1949-0

A middle-school gumshoe takes on a new case—and a new partner—in this promising first installment of a series that cleverly introduces the world of classic private eyes to young readers. Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace runs his P.I. business, Wallace Investigations, out of an old shed in the back of Grantleyville Middle School, where he solves cases along the lines of missing trumpets and cats, while portraits of his heroes Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe look on. It’s not surprising that Howard is a loner: he dresses in a ratty brown bathrobe (his version of a trench coat), and he sounds like he walked off the set of The Maltese Falcon. “What can I do for you, doll face?” he asks one prospective client, who grimaces in response. His latest case is a doozy, replete with blackmail and increasingly menacing threats, and then there’s new student Ivy Mason, who’s determined to join Wallace Investigations. Engagingly blending the fictional world of dames and private eyes with keen insights about adolescent friendship, Lyall’s debut is a winner. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Molly Ker Hawn, Bent Agency. (Sept.) [/em]