Saturday, August 07, 2010


The Adventures of Jack Lime

by James Leck

Recommended by the Exelsior File, this sounded like fun, though I had seen a slightly less enthusiastic review elsewhere (the location has escaped me in the meantime).

This slim book has three separate cases in it, so it works even for someone who finds it hard to stick it out through a whole story, as they can be enjoyed one at a time. it's appealing, too, for its simple, graphic cover, which I love, and smacks of the era emulated (spoofed?) in the writing style.

The book is written in classic hard-boiled detective lingo, with small, smart substitutions made to bring it into the world of kids. A couple of examples from the opening pages of the first case, as Jack is setting the scene:

... I was inside, tucked into the rear booth of The Diner, where not even the rays of the sun could touch me, nursing a root beer float and trying to ignore my throbbing left eye as it swelled shut. ... That's when Sandra Kutcher walked into my life.
Sandra was the type of girl who made boys do stupid things, even boys who needed to take a long hiatus from finding things out.

The cases, too, are tailored to be those you expect a kid to get into, not the murders of adult mysteries. jack certainly does get himself into some scary situations along the way as he tangles with some town toughs, but nothing a grade 3 or 4 and higher couldn't handle. in fact, that element of danger is part of what makes the genre, so this simply wouldn't work without it - and it has massive boy appeal, too.

In short, I found this a great fun read with a sly sense of humour, so the fact that yes, it's not the first children's book to hop on the tails of classic noir and may not be wholly original doesn't take much away from my enjoying it.

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