I read this as a bedtime story with my kids. The main character, Steve Brixton, is a drop-dead fan of the Bailey Brothers Detective Series of books (kind of like the Hardy Boys—i.e. slightly outdated in terminology and theory). Steve does indeed have a gift for deduction—and proves it by inadvertently solving a baffling crime for his mother’s new boyfriend—a police detective, who dismisses Steve’s theory only to have it proved correct later on.
It firmly held the attention of my 8 & 9 year old. Chapters often end with skillful cliffhangers. There’s a nice little dash of intrigue surrounding the secret identity of librarians in the United States as an elite spy/secret-keeping force. It has some wonderfully clever and exciting moments. My biggest complaint is that there are several passages from the “Bailey Brothers” books inserted into the narrative. Unfortunately, most of these interruptions are just that without adding much to Steve’s story.
The conclusion is well-plotted and ultimately satisfying. In general the story holds a lot of promise but this installment of the series (in my opinion) never realizes its full potential. While there are definitely enjoyable moments I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this particular read.