Sunday, August 22, 2021

Book Review: Short Cuts by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #16)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Eleven entertaining short stories
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Story collection
Featuring Ricky and friends
Entertaining all

Learning Lessons with Ricky Kidd

When I was reading the Accidental Detective stories for the first time, I remember hearing that Ricky Kidd and his friends and family originally started out as the main characters in a series of short stories that Sigmund Brouwer wrote.  I was really curious to read some of those stories, so when I realized that Short Cuts collected eleven of them, I was thrilled.

After a fun introduction that gives us a bit more information on Sigmund Brouwer himself and introduces the characters if you haven’t already met them, we jump into the stories.  While the books in the series are mysteries, these are more slice of life stories.  For example, we start with Ricky and his friend Mike in a canoe in the middle of a storm.  Ricky has to figure out what to do about a bully who has challenged him to a fight at school.  A new student at school believes in spirits because of an item she was given before she moved.  And Ricky gets a lesson in what it is like to be old even though he is twelve years old.

After each story, Sigmund Brouwer writes directly to us.  At times, he talks about the inspiration behind the stories themselves.  Others, he goes on to expand on the themes of the story.  These sections, while not as entertaining as the stories, are just as interesting to read.  I’ve read this book several times over the years, and each time, a different story hits me and leaves me with something to chew over.  Honestly, if he included a few scriptures, this could easily have worked as a devotional.

Sigmund Brouwer is a Christian, so this book was originally written for the Christian market.  The target audience is middle graders.  I was in high school when I first read the book, so I was older than the target audience then, but that never bothered me.  The characters and the stories are fun and relatable no matter your age.  Although, be careful, a couple of them pack an emotional wallop.

One of the stories in the book is one those familiar with the series will recognize.  “Crazy Carl” was featured as the wrap around story for the book Sunrise at the Mayan Temple.  Since it won an award, Sigmund Brouwer is understandably proud of it.  Yes, he changed Carl’s name for the novel, but the rest of it is the same.

Which made me realize that I had probably seen some of the short stories featuring these characters that were not included in this book before.  Each of the novels starts with a fun little vignette with the characters before we launch into the main mystery.  And I would bet many of those opening stories started out life as a short story.

As I said, I’ve read this book several times over the years, and I’ve enjoyed it each time.  I love these characters, and it is always fun to spend time with them.  The themes are universal, and we are never preached out.  They leave us with plenty to think about.

Whether you’ve met the Accidental Detectives before or not, you’ll find Short Cuts to be an enjoyable read.  Kids of all ages will be left entertained with plenty to think about.

Looking for the full mysteries?  Here are the Accidental Detective Mysteries in order.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays.


  1. Thanks, Mark, for your review of a book of short stories. Did you read all the children's nominations for the Agatha? I finished MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL last week and HOLLY HERNANDEZ AND THE DEATH OF DISCO this weekend. Looking for your comments.

    1. I haven't read any of this year's Agatha nominees, and they are on my radar to read any time soon. Sorry.

  2. Glad you enjoyed this so much. How fun to get to read short stories with characters you already loved. :)

  3. I haven't heard of this author, but I will check him out because I love mysteries. I think it's cool that he's wrtten short stories that focus more on the characters. And I really liked Midnight at the Barclay Hotel if you ever get a chance to read it.

  4. I've read several of the Accidental Detective books but had not heard of Short Cuts. I've added it to my growing list to read this year. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  5. What a fun read! I love the idea of Brouwer writing comments following each story and sharing inspiration and insights. Thanks for sharing!

  6. That's so neat that you've gotten to see characters from a great series in this book of short stories! The stories sound really compelling, and getting to hear the author's thoughts sounds wonderful as well. Thanks so much for the great review!

  7. I do enjoy short stories and think there should be more of them for middle-grade readers. I will check this one out. Thanks for the heads up.


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