Title: Shirley Link and the Hot Comic
Author: Ben Zackheim
Publisher: self, 2013. 107 pages
Middle-grade detective fiction
Shirley's back, and this time the principal has retained her as an extra precaution to safeguard the first edition of The Avengers comic #1 which has been loaned to the school library for display. Since it's worth a million dollars, he's understandably nervous about it. It takes Shirley no time at all to discover someone is determined to steal the comic, and even who it is. Foiling the plot is the harder part.
This was a quick, fun read, but I just wasn't taken with it the same way I was with the first of Shirley Link's cases (The Safe Case). Several things contributed to that. First, I was put off by the device that has Shirley narrating most of the story while dangling from a chain thirty feet above the street. That seemed a bit hard to swallow. It also created the difficulty that while most of the story is told in past tense, the last two chapters are present tense.
None of that really matters, especially not to a kid reading the fun and gently exciting story. More of a problem, I think, is that Shirley's friends, Marie and Wiley, get pretty short shrift in this one. I was hoping for more development of an interesting three-way friendship, but felt a little let down. Without more input from them, Shirley's ego can get a bit much. And she keeps a few too many surprises back, not sharing her plans or insights, so that the reader can't reach the same conclusions she does.
Lest it sound as though I didn't like this, I hasten to add that I had a good time reading it, and can definitely recommend the series. Any kid who likes the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, or Encyclopedia Brown (okay, or whatever the modern equivalents are, though kids are still reading those, too!) will enjoy Shirley Link, with her hot computer skills, extra-sharp observations, and at times self-deprecating sense of humor. Actually, thinking about the way she uses her ability to really see stuff, Shirley Link might be Cam Jansen's spiritual heir, and is just about right for kids moving up from those easy readers.
Full Disclosure: I purchased Shirley Link and the Hot Comic myself, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."