The Case of the Missing Men: A Hobtown Mystery

Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes. Conundrum, $20 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-77262-016-0
An eerie blend of Scooby Doo and Twin Peaks, this innocent-looking little book is set in the seacoast village of Hobtown, Nova Scotia, where the Teen Detective Club is an officially approved school activity. Club members face increasingly disturbing signs that their comfortable lives are a fiction and the adults running their school and the whole community are deranged and hostile. The volume is designed to look like part of a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew series, but each new clue the kids discover only makes the mystery deeper and more threatening. The script by Bertin, previously known for literary fiction, deserves the most credit for creating a temptingly-comfy, suddenly-ominous mood, but Forbes’s illustrations are marvelously effective, too. His highly detailed pen-and-ink drawings look almost naïve, like the student work of someone who hasn’t quite got the feel for normal human movement; the awkwardness does, however, fit this story, in which nothing can be taken for granted as normal. It’s an exceptional, odd mystery. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/27/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
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