Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer

 Lisa Orchard contacted me about writing a review for The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, and I'm glad she did. It's a fun mystery read for kids, but even though it's peppered with pop culture references and lots of humor that will definitely appeal to the age group, Orchard knows how to be dark. Fear, suspense, thrills, jokes -- it's all here. I'm definitely not in Orchard's target audience, but I absolutely enjoyed this book.

The formatting and justification are perfect, always an important point, and I had to search hard to find a single mistake in the entire book. At no point does the story feel slow, and I wasn't even tempted to stop reading before the final page.

I very much enjoyed the main character Sarah, who is brave to a fault when she's seeking justice; Jackie, the fiercely loyal fashionista; and Lacey, the loveable klutz with a big heart...and two left feet. Together, they form the Super Spies, a group which soon includes a potential love interest for one of the girls. But they're not just playing detective -- they're playing a dangerous game that involves kidnappers, killers and secrets that go back three decades.

The plot is easy to follow, and overall the story is quite well-written. Early in the book, the Super Spies find themselves knee-deep in murder and in very real danger. There's more than one edge-of-your-seat scene, and thanks to Orchard's vivid writing I was frightened several times. Who will stop them first: the police...or the killers? 

The story unfolds beautifully, and I truly enjoyed the relationships and interactions in Sarah's life. The quick, close friendship she develops with Jackie feels very natural, particularly the quips they trade back and forth. The relationship she has with kid sister Lacey is equally poignant. I look forward to seeing how the characters develop in the next Super Spies mystery.

The term mystery is stretched just a little in the story, though in the main it does qualify for the genre. The killer is revealed very early, so there isn't much of a mystery about that, and the big twist for the second crime was easy to figure out even midway through the book. Some of the references are a little hokey and borderline unbelievable. The reporter named Scoop, for example, is just a little too precious. The fact that everyone in town seems highly supportive of these teenagers, who are clearly playing a dangerous game, goes beyond being farfetched. A scene near the end where the Super Spies get some recognition for their efforts is, in a word, preposterous.

But at the end of the day, the book is written for kids -- and kids will surely delight in the pulse-pounding action, the terror-inducing danger and the fact that together, four teenagers just might be smarter than an entire police department. Sarah is a heroine that's easy to believe in and look up to, and the warmth of friendship that permeates each page is sure to inspire good feelings. The book gives children the idea that they can do anything, figure anything out, so long as they stay true to themselves and to each other, and that is truly exceptional writing. Next time I find myself in a quiet little New England town, I'm sure I'll be looking around at the shaded houses and peaceful streets, wondering about all the many secrets that lurk beneath the surface...and peeking in library windows, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Super Spies.  

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  1. Thanks so much Jade for taking the time to review my story and writing such a great review. I'm so happy that you liked it!:) The second book in the series is coming out this summer! I'll keep you posted!

  2. Hey Jade, a very well written review! I truly love those kids books. They can be farfecthed and impossible but in the end they have a great meaning and story to back it up so it doesn't really matter

  3. Nic, thanks for stopping by. :) There are life lessons in this story that I hope the reader learns right along with the characters. Yes, Jade did a great review and gave me 5 Stars on Amazon and Goodreads! She is awesome!