cover image Minerva Keen’s Detective Club (Minerva Keen #1)

Minerva Keen’s Detective Club (Minerva Keen #1)

James Patterson and Keir Graff. Little, Brown/Patterson, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-41223-0

Red herrings and gross-out humor abound in this approachable, Only Murders in the Building-esque whodunit by Patterson (the Middle School series) and Graff (The Phantom Tower), which is centered on the Arcanum, a landmark Chicago apartment building that’s “a magnet for people who are different and weird.” Visiting Melbourne on business, the mathematician father and philosopher mother of Minerva Keen have left the 12-year-old and her accident-prone 11-year-old brother, Heck, in the care of distracted older cousin Bizzy. When their elderly neighbor Kermit collapses in an apparent poisoning while playing chess with Minerva, she becomes a potential suspect, questioned by Detective Taylor. Interested in helping with the case, Minerva soon employs her “superior brainpower” to do some sleuthing of her own, enlisting the help of both Heck and schoolmate “Silent Santos” Salgado. As poisonings continue in the building, the junior detectives race to find the perpetrator while evading the Arcanum’s malevolent building manager. Though the puzzle’s solution comes out of left field, wonderfully quirky characters, slapstick buffoonery, and smart pacing propel this rambunctious detective story—and its charismatic narrator—into a dynamic mystery. The Keen family reads as white, Detective Taylor has brown skin; context clues suggest diversity across the secondary cast. Ages 8–12. Agents: (for Patterson) Robert Barnett, Williams and Connelly LLP; (for Graff) Josh Gertzler, Hannigan Gertzler Literary. (May)