Mad Mouse by Chris Grabenstein
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There is nothing wrong with writing mystery fiction for children or for the so-called young adults. I just do not like them at all. I am unable to find the richness of life or truth about the world and people in such novels; they are cleansed, simplistic, and cartoonish. So, again, my dislike of this book is based on my deep dislike of the genre, same as with the “cozy”, the traditional “whodunit”, the “closed-room mystery”, or the paranormal genre.
Technically, Chris Grabenstein’s “Mad Mouse” is not a work of “young-adult fiction”. It purports to be a traditional police procedural, in which a young (25 years old) “summer cop” (one who is hired only for the summer period), Danny Boyle, helps an experienced cop, John Ceepak, who happens to be a decorated ex-soldier, in solving quite a difficult case. However, the writing is so juvenile that I have trouble reconciling it with the police procedural. Danny provides the first-person narration for most of the novel, and he thinks and sounds like a teen. Also, John Ceepak is a caricature. His moral code is so straight that it belongs in cartoons only.
The plot, once it actually starts in earnest, does indeed have many “twists and turns” (way too many for my taste) and the denouement is pretty clever (I think it might be too clever). Mercifully, the writing is less infantile in the second half of the novel. However, “Mad Mouse”, contrary to what some reviewers say, does not provide a good feel for the place, a New Jersey beach town. The plot could well be happening in beach towns in other countries.
I do not regret the pain of having to read through the first hundred or so lame pages, because the further I read the less pain I felt. Also, to reiterate, many other readers do and will love “Mad Mouse”; one of its main faults is that the writing makes the book read like a young-adult novel, a genre I despise.
Two and a half stars.
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