Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

$0.25 A Day, Plus Expenses

Brown Harvest by Jay Russell

The famous boy detective vowed he would never return home. But when his former partner and best friend is killed, he returns to Ideaville to find it very much changed from the idyllic small town of his youth. His father, Ideaville's former Chief of Police, is a gin-soaked laughingstock, software baron Roach Blackwell has the town under his thumb, and Ideaville is so corrupt that perhaps the only way to clean it up is to burn it down.

In this Encyclopedia Brown/Red Harvest mash-up, Russell is daring enough to pay obvious homage to everyone from the Boxcar Children to Cherry Ames to A Wrinkle in Time, and clever enough not to get sued.

The book is not without its problems. For one thing, it actually borders on being too explicit for my tastes. While I appreciate the archetypes of hardboiled fiction, and have made my peace with what that tends to mean for female characters, still, I don't relish finding a beloved fictional heroine from my childhood turned into a road whore. This is all made worse by the fact that the sex scenes read like X-Files fan fiction. Bad X-Files fan fiction.

Still, Brown Harvest is an inventive parody with unexpected twists and some fun shout-outs. If you like...: Confessions of a Teenage Sleuth by Chelsea Cain or this, this book is for you.

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