One of the privileges of being involved with Teen Lit Rocks, is that we have the opportunity to read books from authors that we might not find in our local book stores. Author Lisa Orchard was kind enough to share her book, “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”. We are thankful for her patience, since other commitments made it difficult to find time to read and then write this review.
This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission. The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer.
When Sarah and Lacey Cole’s parents are called out of town for the summer, the girls are sent to stay with their Uncle Walt and Aunt June. At first both girls are bored in the small town of Harrisburg, Michigan. They miss their friends and the fun they might be having with them. Then Sarah meets Jackie, a fun local girl who is the same age as her. Jackie quickly regales Sarah with tales regarding the eccentric personalities in town, especially “The Cat Lady”, the local “old witch”. Sarah is more level headed than to believe that a little old lady is a “witch”, however she immediately clicks with Jackie.
When they get together for a fun game of Truth or Dare, Sarah is dared to knock on “The Cat Lady’s” door. When she doesn’t answer the door, Sarah looks in the window and sees something strange, so she opens the door and to her dismay discovers the dead and bloody body of “The Cat Lady”. So begins the most incredible summer of Sarah’s life. The girls get involved in more mayhem than they could’ve imagined, but all along Sarah is willing to risk everything to help solve the murder.
If, like me, you have fond memories of reading Nancy Drew books as a child, then this book will be a pleasurable experience. It’s enjoyable and amusing as you try to “solve” the mystery. Even though I was able to figure out “whodunit” on my own, younger readers might have a more difficult time figuring things out and that is always the appeal of murder mysteries.
“The Super Spies” is geared toward middle readers, but it’s an entertaining read for anyone. Each of the characters are easy for young girls to relate to. After all, who wouldn’t love to have a summer filled with adventures and solve a murder mystery along the way? Well, maybe not that last part, but I know that they will enjoy this book. Ms. Orchard is turning this into a series, in fact the second book , “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is already available. That will be a lot of fun– reminiscent of my Nancy Drew days.