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Now a proper apprentice with a badge, 10-year-old Wilma enrolls in the Cooper Academy of Detection and Espionage and helps Detective Theodore P. Goodman find the perpetrator of a series of murders at the Valiant Vaudeville Theater.
When Wilma goes undercover posing as a performer during the investigation, she nearly becomes a victim herself. This would certainly break one of the five Apprentice Detective Golden Rules: "Avoid mucking things up spectacularly." This second in a series starring the detective wannabe and her beagle Pickles offers both another murder mystery with plenty of twists and turns and some steps along the way toward solving the series' fundamental question: Who and where are the foundling's missing relatives? The humor ranges from third-grade snickers at Pickles' "involuntary smells" and digs at arch-villain Barbu D'Anvers' shortness to quite sophisticated puns. An over-the-top review of Wilma and Pickles' dance performance will make even adult readers smile. The writing is straightforward, but Kennedy includes language that may challenge younger readers, irresistible new words like "irascible," "wafting," "sordid" and "maniacally." A couple of pages of summary of the events of the first book will bring newcomers into the long-term story, but this title stands on its own.
Both familiar and fresh, this English import is likely to appeal to American readers as well. (Mystery. 8-12)