The Diamond Mystery

illus. by Helena Willis. 80p. (The Whodunit Detective Agency: Bk. 1). Grosset & Dunlap. Jul. 2014. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780448480671; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780448480664.
Gr 2–4—Swedish author Widmark's popular series (Bonnier Carlsen, 2002) is translated into English, with disappointing results. Classmates and friends Jerry and Maya launch a detective agency in their small town of Pleasant Valley. Their first case is catching the thief stealing diamonds from Mr. Carat's jewelry shop. The plot moves quickly, and the young detectives show pluck while solving the crime in a single day. However, Widmark's series, a critical and commercial success in Sweden, is not well served by this translation. Characterization and setting are minimal. Jerry and Maya's conclusions of suspects' guilt or innocence are illogical and not based on information provided to readers. Illustrations contradict the text at three points, two of which are key plot elements, and the preface is unnecessary exposition: the same information is repeated in the first three pages of chapter one. It's a shame that so much has been lost in translation, since the book is attractively designed, with large font, generous white space, and whimsical, full-color illustrations on almost every page. Pass on this first entry in hope that book two receives a translation worthy of a series that, according to its Swedish publisher, is popular enough to be translated into 28 languages.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Classmates and crime-solving partners Maya and Jerry, disguised as store employees, are on the case to discover who is stealing diamonds from the local jeweler. The details of the mystery's solution feel a bit too fabricated. Still, the process of the investigation is sound, and readers will appreciate the series-starter's well-placed clues and red herrings. Amusing full-color illustrations appear throughout the story.

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