Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters, great mystery and themes
The Bottom Line:
Hunting a treasure
Ricky and friends entertain
All mystery fans
Where Did Moth-Wallet Bugsby Hide His Fortune?
It’s been several years since I’ve read an Accidental Detective book and even more since I read the series for the first time. I have such fond memories of the books that I was glad to revisit them with Race for the Park Street Treasure, and it was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
This middle grade mystery series focuses on Ricky Kidd and his friends Mike Andrews, Ralphy Zee, and Lisa Higgins. While many of their adventures take them all over the country, this one finds them in their hometown of Jamesville. But there’s plenty of excitement to be had there, since several books are set there.
And this time, the excitement starts in an unlikely place – the library basement. Ricky is down there sorting through really old books in order to pay off his community service debt due to a “science experiment” gone horribly, horribly wrong. (It’s Mike’s fault, really.) Hidden in one of the books, he finds what looks like a treasure map. There is a legend in town that Fred Bugsby, the richest man in town and a well-known miser, hid most of his fortune before he died years ago, and Ricky thinks he’s found the map.
Unfortunately, the word about Ricky’s find and the map itself gets out (again thanks to Mike). Now Ricky and his friends are in a race to find the treasure. Can they figure out where the map leads? Will they find fortune? Or will they find nothing but greed?
There are many reasons I loved these books when I read them as a college student originally, and they are still there no matter how many times I reread them. Up first are the characters. While they might rarely show it, they have some hidden depths to them that we get to see. Ricky is the best developed since he is our first person narrator, but we can see there is more to the rest of the cast at various times in the books. This development goes to the adults and the characters brought in for this book as well.
Then there are the plots. I’ve read the books two or three times each now, so I remember most of the big brush strokes. Still, I get caught up in the events as they unfold and love watching Ricky piece everything together. The clues are all there, but they are hidden in plain sight, so you never know what it means until Ricky figures it out.
Plus the books are just plain fun. Ricky, Mike, and Ralphy are always teasing each other. They try to act tough around Lisa, but she’s always showing them up. Then there’s Ricky’s younger brother Joel who pops up at the worst possible moment for the best comedic effect.
Yet when the book gets serious, it works. This series was written for the Christian market, so there are Biblical lessons in the books. However, they never preach. In fact, I often find myself caring about these sub-plots or scenes as much as I do the main mystery.
Now I know it sounds like I’m talking about the series in general here, and in some ways I am. However, this book is a perfect example of all I’ve talked about. The plot is strong, the characters are fun, and you’ll laugh on one page and think the next.
The series has been in print twice, but it is currently out of print again. Well, they are available as ebooks only, but if you like having a physical book, getting a copy will take a little work. They are worth tracking down, so do it today.
I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves a good mystery, be they the target audience or not. Trust me, you’ll race through Race for the Park Street Treasure and be anxious for more.
Looking for more? Here are the Accidental Detectives mysteries in order.
This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.