When classrooms start turning up trashed and rumors of a mysterious giant "were-hamster" are whispered in the halls of Emerson Hicky Elementary, Chet Gecko, fourth-grade detective, swings into action. His teacher, Mr. Ratnose, has promised him two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts if he solves the mystery, and as the case evolves and the moon waxes full, Chet and his mockingbird partner, Natalie Attired, are drawn in deeper and deeper. Soon they are going undercover as potential members of the Dirty Rotten Stinkers gang, hiding out in Dumpsters, and working on the sly for fat-cat Principal Zero.
Savvy readers well-versed in Bruce Hale's hilarious wordplay and detective novel spoofs will not be surprised to see that the denouement of this uproarious mystery involves a few shady characters named Erik Nidd (a tarantula bully), Luke Busy (a badger janitor), and Lauren Order (a meek little hamster), as well as a giant makeshift Habitrail. Other titles in the series include Farewell, My Lunchbag and The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse. (Ages 8 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5-Chet returns for his fifth case, when his classroom is wrecked and he is offered two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts to find the culprit. The zany text reads like a mixture of stand-up comedy, Raymond Chandler mysteries, old films, and a fourth grader on an overdose of sugar. In order to solve the case Chet and his bird partner, Natalie Attired, infiltrate the Dirty Rotten Stinkers gang to find out more about suspects Erik Nidd, a tank-sized tarantula, and Bosco Rebbizi, a "surly ferret with a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood tree." A werewolf is sighted and the playground has large tunnels in it. Chet interviews the librarian, an opossum who is an expert on the supernatural and talks like a Beat hipster from the 1950s. Plot development is not built steadily with the finding of clues, and the ending is sudden and contrived. However, the irresistible wordplay and punny humor may elicit giggles from many readers. Illustrations are adequate, but they don't have the originality and appeal of the text.Debbie Stewart, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI
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