________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 23 . . . . February 19, 2016


Forensics Squad Unleashed.

Monique Polak.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
297 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $14.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0979-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0980-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0981-9 (epub).

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Show us the chihuahua before we give you the money." Nico's voice again. Why do they keep mentioning the money?

"Show me the money first.'"

The conversation stops. Now I hear the sound of a scuffle and people running. More barking.

Roxie is barking now too. Someone--I can't tell who--is shouting, "Oh, crap!"

What is going on? I don't know where to look.

I jump--nearly bumping my head on the bottom of the slide--when my cell phone vibrates in my hand.

It's a message from Mason:
Make a run for it.

When Tabitha was young, her house was broken into while she and her mother were home alone. This experience shaped their lives, leading Tabitha to become obsessed with forensic science. At age 13, Tabitha is surprised by her parents with registration in a forensic science day camp at the University of Montreal. Tabitha has never been more excited, with the only downside being that her parents' best friends have also enrolled their son, Mason, in the same camp. Though their parents' friendship means Tabitha often finds herself thrown together with Mason, she finds him annoying and tends to bully him. Once at forensic science camp, Tabitha and Mason are joined by the other camp participants and are tasked with solving a staged mystery: finding out who vandalized the cafeteria. As they work together on the fake mystery, they stumble across a real mystery: purebred dogs have been going missing, and they suspect it could be a dognapper. When the grandmother of one of the campers has her own dog go missing, the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and find the missing dogs themselves. Over the course of the book, Tabitha grows as a character, becoming more tolerant and collaborative, and she gains an appreciation for the strengths that the other campers, including Mason, bring to the investigations.

      Forensics Squad Unleashed gets off to a bit of a slow start, with the central mystery of the dog disappearances being hinted at but doesn't really take off until the second half of the book. The book is full of well-researched details of forensic analysis and will be appealing to fans of forensic science or just mysteries in general.

Highly Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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