Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday

The Title.  The cover art.  The shape of the book.  These are the first three things I really liked about this book...and I hadn't even opened the cover yet.  And when I did?  I was in book heaven.  Only a few short chapters in, at page 39, I already knew I was going to be a fan of this book.  Whatever plot direction it would take, Munday's writing style had me smiling, thinking and eager for the next syllable. Quick fired phrasings welcomed me into the pages, dexterously weaving the characters around me.  I instantly bonded with references to rocking out to Neil Diamond - a childhood embarrassment that I could now look back on with the wry amusement of an adult.

Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher, she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and it isn’t long before she befriends the ghosts of five dead teenagers, each from a different era of the past. Using October’s smarts and the ghosts’ abilities to walk through walls and roam around undetected, they form the Dead Kid Detective Agency, a group committed to solving Sticksville’s most mysterious mysteries. So when the high school’s beloved French teacher dies in a suspicious car accident, it provides the agency with its first bona fide case, putting them in the midst of a murder plot thick with car chases, cafeteria fights, and sociopathic math teachers, and sending them on an adventure that might just uncover the truth about a bomb that exploded 40 years ago.

I really liked that this book is packed full of Canadian references  landmarks and culture but never once beat you over the head with it.  As a Canadian, these references are organic, linking motives and personal histories together to create a familiar social landscape where I can immerse myself in the story.

This is Munday's premiere novel.  It works.  Very well.  Go get a copy.  Now.

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