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In his mind's eye, precocious 12-year-old Eugene "Huge" Smalls, the narrator of Fuerst's quirky debut, is the lineal descendant of Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and other pulp detectives he admires. When the nursing home where his beloved grandmother stays is vandalized, Huge sees a chance to follow in their footsteps by solving the crime. What follows is a picaresque romp around suburban New Jersey as Huge misreads clues, misinterprets motives and mistakes mundane incidents for diabolical schemes as only an inexperienced adolescent with a restless imagination can. Largely plotless, this coming-of-age story is full of awkward digressions. Still, Fuerst demonstrates a sensitive ear for contemporary teen talk, delicacy at handling the amusingly contentious relationship between Huge and his older sister and mom, and skill at conveying a child's-eye view of the world that is full of nostalgia, humor, candor and emotions that all readers can relate to. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.