Author: Emma Kennedy
335 Pages–Ages 8-12
Published by: Dial Books by 15 September 2011
Wilma Tenderfoot, a tiny, brash, and determined ten-year-old orphan, dreams of becoming a worldfamous detective so she can find out who her parents are. Wilma discovers that her new next-door neighbor is the renowned detective Theodore P. Goodman, and he has a new case. Wilma is set on becoming Mr. Goodman’s apprentice, so with the help of her beagle, Pickle, she makes deductions, follows leads, and scouts out suspects. She’s sure she’ll win the famous detective over and crack the case, as soon as Pickle stops eating the clues.
With wicked humor, dastardly villains, red herrings, and a setting that would make Sherlock Holmes proud, this mystery is just like Wilma-funny, feisty, cheeky, and charming.
So far I like the tone of this book. It’s funny by how ridiculous and blunt it is. At the same time, it’s a bit harsh. It doesn’t use euphemisms to cover up things like death or the poor treatment of children. For example:
If you find her [Wilma] staring off into the middle distance, just shout her name once, quite loudly, and that should do the trick. Please feel free to beat her. You may have your own preferred methods of punishment, but I have always found a few thwacks with a Naughty-Boy Belt (brochure attached) to yield the best results.
The first death is outright stated and the word murder is used quite frequently. There isn’t any gore or anything like that.
Early in the book there’s quite a bit of “foreshadowing”, though it’s not really a warning more of a declaration. For example early on in the book the author states:
But enough of that. Let’s get back to Alan Katzin, who, within seventy-two hours of bumping into Wilma, was going to be stone-cold dead. How very ghastly.
It adds a different kind of suspense to the novel. Instead of the typical “will this person die” suspense, this gives the “I know what’s going to happen but when and why” suspense. It does hint the reader to be a lot more careful when reading to look out for clues as to why something that they know is going to happen happens.
I really did like the book in the beginning and I thought it was funny, but as the book went on I was a little less charmed by it. Honestly, I felt like the second half dragged a little and the reveal of the mastermind wasn’t all that exciting. Nonetheless, I liked the book. I am vaguely interested in how the series ends up and who Wilma’s one living relative is. Not only that, but I am curious about what’s going to happen to Janty, the young boy whose father was killed.