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This fast-paced U.S. debut for British author Cheshire launches the Saxby Smart, Private Detective series starring a chipper crackerjack sleuth. The protagonist immediately pulls readers into the action, as Saxby explains, "Unlike some detectives, I don't have a sidekick, so that part I'm leaving up to you-pay attention, I'll ask questions." He involves readers each step of the way, asking about their deductive progress ("Have you figured it out?"), before disclosing his own hunches and findings. Of the three mysteries presented in this volume, the first-involving the connection between a Japanese samurai mask and the bad luck plaguing a friend's father-is the most creatively convoluted. Saxby's resourceful tactics and comedic overstatements will keep kids entertained; his classmates (who play key supporting roles), excerpts from Saxby's notebook and Alley's (Paddington and the Christmas Surprise) cheery b&w line art further enliven these mysteries. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.