Bergers Book Reviews

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Mystery / Children
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7788-2
Pages: 120
Price: $7.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

After solving the mystery in Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong, Sherlock Sam is looking for another case as Singapore’s Greatest Kid Detective. In this latest mystery, Sam and his faithful robot companion, Watson, visit Fort Canning and find a previously undiscovered sally port. But when he, Watson, and his friends approach, they all hear loud, ghostly moans coming from inside.

Sam doesn’t believe in ghosts, but can he prove the strange sounds he hears aren’t ghoulish in origin? Taking his father and Watson along for another visit, he determines to crack this case. Using Watson’s superior computer skills, he will attempt to gather evidence. But will the moans chase them all off, as before?

Sherlock Sam and Watson make a terrific comic duo, as Watson’s sarcasm adds humor to this delightful mystery. Kids will love Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 13, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong

sherlock-sam-and-the-missing-heirloom-in-katong
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Children / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7789-9
Pages: 112
Price: $7.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Samuel Tan Cher Lock (aka Sherlock Sam) is hungry, and Auntie Kim Lian’s heirloom cookbook is missing. If Sherlock Sam is going to enjoy ayam buah keluak for dinner, she needs to find it – and quickly! Since Auntie has no idea where she last had it, Sherlock Sam is determined to retrace her steps.

Checking all the cabinets in the kitchen fails to turn up the cookbook, so the group heads out to various places, attempting to figure out where the missing heirloom might be hiding. With the help of his sarcastic and very humorous computer and some of his friends, Sherlock Sam uses deductive reasoning and finally locates the missing cookbook.

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong is a fun mystery with a taste of Singapore. Featuring a great kid detective and his gang of helpers, this story is logical from beginning to end. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Sherlock Sam. But, unfortunately, they will only be able to imagine the yummy food Sam is enjoying.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 9, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Stolen Sculpture

the-case-of-the-stolen-sculpture
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9690-0
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Clementine Wim is devastated when the statue of Gudea turns up missing. Luckily for the Capitol City Art Museum, the insurance policy will reimburse them well for the statue. In fact, the reimbursement is so large it will pay for a new education wing that Dr. Carbony has been wishing for. But Dr. Carbony and the others seem a bit too happy about the insurance money.

Calling on her friends Raining, Wilson, and Amal, Clementine investigates what might have happened to the statue, and who last saw it before it disappeared. When the security camera footage fails to identify the thief, they try to reason out an alternative theory. And if they’re successful, they just might return the statue to its rightful place.

The Case of the Missing Museum Archives is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story features a diversified cast of characters that bands together to solve mysteries. Children will enjoy hunting for the missing Gudea along with Clementine and her friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 6, 2016 Posted by | mystery, tween | Leave a comment

Unleashed

Unleashed
Author: Eileen Brady
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0394-7
Pages: 255
Price: $26.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Dr. Kate Turner is surprised that Claire Birnham would commit suicide. Her beloved dog, Toto, is at the vet’s office, and Kate can’t believe she’d just abandon him. As Kate speaks to those who knew Claire well, she finds that she’s not the only one who has their doubts. Even though her friend, Luke Gianetti, a police officer, tells her to let the police handle the case, she can’t stop herself from interfering.

The case takes an unexpected turn for the worst when one of her staff is accused of murder. Now Kate is even more determined to clear him, and prove that Claire didn’t kill herself. But will the real murderer be forced to try to stop her?

As a cozy mystery, Unleashed takes liberties with civilian investigations. Kate pushes the limits of friendly discussions regarding Claire’s mysterious death, and these are simply accepted as normal. But the final conclusion was a bit obscure for my tastes, as there appears to be no real motive until the very end. Animal lovers will enjoy this latest installment in the Kate Turner, DVM mystery series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 24, 2016 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

The Shadow of Seth

The Shadow of Seth
Author: Tom Llewellyn
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Genre: Teen / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-92934-518-2
Pages: 186
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Seth Anomundy lives in a small apartment in the back of a boxing gym, on the poor side of Tacoma, with his mother, a cleaning woman. And now she’s dead, apparently murdered. The cops don’t seem interested in finding out what happened to her, so Seth needs to take matters into his own hands.

On a delivery run for the clock repairman he occasionally works for, he meets one of the rich girls in school, who immediately takes an interest in him. As he speaks with his mother’s clients, he retraces her steps that fateful night, narrowing down the suspects. The cops have issued an arrest warrant for the woman he considers a second mother when she disappears after the murder, and Seth wants to clear her name. But he also needs to steer clear of King George, a teenage thug who suddenly wants him dead.

The Shadow of Seth is an interesting whodunit. Clues are carefully presented and the reader is able to follow along as Seth figures out what happened. But some of the characters’ actions don’t ring quite true, and Seth acts more like he’s researching the death of a stranger rather than his own mother. Fans of simple and straight-forward murder mysteries without too much emotional involvement will enjoy this novel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 18, 2016 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Haunted History Museum

The Case of the Haunted History Museum
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9691-7
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Wilson Kipper’s mom works for the Capitol City Museum of Natural City. While he’s visiting, the huge Quetzalcoatlus model crashes to the floor, and he and his friends, Clementine, Amal and Raining, witness it happening. When a ghost is suspected of haunting the museum, the four sleuths jump into action.

The museum director brings in a ghost hunting team led by a famous psychic to track down the ghost, but the kids start looking elsewhere. Since Wilson doesn’t believe in ghosts, there must be a person staging the unusual events taking place at the museum. Trying to determine who most benefited from the ghost’s appearance, they examine the clues and track down the perpetrator of the hoax.

The Case of the Haunted History Museum is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story is reminiscent of Scooby Doo cartoons, when a band of kids gets together to thwart the bad guy. However, the cast of characters is more diversified, featuring other ethnic backgrounds. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Wilson and his friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 11, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Beyond Suspicion

Beyond Suspicion
Author: Catherine A. Winn
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-9293-4510-6
Page: 230
Price: $10.95

Buy it at Amazon

Shelby really wants to go to her best friend’s birthday party, and she’s disappointed when she finds out she’ll be stuck at home, babysitting her baby brother. Since her mom got married to Roger and had a new baby, Shelby’s life has been hard, and she vents her frustration to her friends before taking her one year-old brother, Josh, out for a walk in the park. A small fireworks display distracts Shelby, and when she turns around, Josh is gone.

The situation goes from bad to worse when the police won’t believe her story and instead blame Shelby for Josh’s disappearance. She has no one to turn to except a new boy, Matt, who suddenly decides to help her. Unexpected support also comes from Roger, who defends her to the police and hires an attorney to clear her name. Following a couple of hunches leads Shelby to Josh, but she soon finds herself and Josh in danger. Only her quick thinking can save both their lives before it’s too late.

Beyond Suspicion is a fast read that will keep young adults interested from the first page. Shelby’s predicament with difficult parents is easy to relate to, as is her determination to find her baby brother. There are a few scenes that may require the reader to suspend disbelief, but overall, this is a nicely written story that teens will enjoy.

WARNING: Contains violence.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 16, 2016 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

The Charlemagne Connection

The Charlemagne Connection
Author: R.M. Cartmel
Publisher: Crime Scene Books
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-9929486-2-7
Pages: 328
Price: $13.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Commander Truchaud has been called back home to Nuits-Saint-Georges to help his sister-in-law, Michelle, handle his father, who is suffering from dementia and getting worse each day. He soon learns that a German tourist disappeared a while back, when his sister and her friend arrive, attempting to locate him. Fearing foul play, they try to determine when he was last seen, and with whom.

Inheritance laws in France are strict, and Truchaud soon learns that this German man might have been a threat to someone whose family owns one of the local vineyards. He also suspects that his disappearance may have something to do with the mysterious circumstances in The Richebourg Affair.

The Charlemagne Connection is more of a novel than a whodunit, and mystery buffs won’t find much to solve. But those who enjoy exotic settings and good character development will enjoy this book. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this intriguing mystery.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 2, 2016 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Museum Archives

The Case of the Missing Museum Archives
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9692-4
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Amal Farah is visiting her father at the Air and Space Museum when the plans for a failed flying machine go missing. Since Dr. Farah is in charge of keeping them safe, he is blamed for their disappearance. When her dad’s job is threatened, Amal gathers her friends together find out what happened to the plans.

Along with Clementine, Raining, and Wilson, Amal investigates the theft, asking the museum staff lots of questions. Bit by bit, they piece together what they think happened, and then confront the perpetrator. Soon the missing plans are recovered, and Dr. Farah’s job is safe.

The Case of the Missing Museum Archives is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story is reminiscent of Scooby Doo cartoons, when a band of kids gets together to thwart the bad guy. However, the cast of characters is more diversified, featuring other ethnic backgrounds. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Amal and her friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 31, 2015 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Crime and Puzzlement

Crime and Puzzlement
Author: Lawrence Treat
Illustrator: Leslie Cabarga
Publisher: David R. Godine
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-87923-405-8
Pages: 69
Price: $8.95

Buy it at Amazon

If you stumbled upon a murder scene, how difficult would it be to figure out what happened? How is the body positioned? Are there footprints or scuff marks on the floor? Is there evidence of theft or a struggle?

In these 24 pen and ink drawings, murder scenes are laid out for the amateur sleuth to interpret. The reader is invited to study the drawing, and then answer a series of questions designed to draw out the truth.

Unfortunately, many of the scenes are a bit difficult to make out. In one scene, a mustache brush provides a vital clue, but many wouldn’t even be able to identify it on the table. In another, signatures need to be compared, but it’s hard to tell if their similarity is a clue or simply the way they are drawn. Some of the scenes appear a bit dated, making it difficult for the younger reader to even understand what’s happening.

Crime and Puzzlement is a nice idea, in concept. Savvy mystery readers may be able to solve a few of these puzzlers, but a lot of folks will probably feel frustrated.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 30, 2015 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment