Monday, March 4, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Dead Kid Detective Agency

Today’s pick:  The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday

Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher, she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and it isn’t long before she befriends the ghosts of five dead teenagers, each from a different era of the past.
Using October’s smarts and the ghosts’ abilities to walk through walls and roam around undetected, they form the Dead Kid Detective Agency, a group committed to solving Sticksville’s most mysterious mysteries. So when the high school’s beloved French teacher dies in a suspicious car accident, it provides the agency with its first bona fide case, putting them in the midst of a murder plot thick with car chases, cafeteria fights, and sociopathic math teachers, and sending them on an adventure that might just uncover the truth about a bomb that exploded 40 years ago.

My Take:

This was an intriguing book. The concept of “ghost detectives” was engaging and I enjoyed the writer’s style and humour (though it might not be for everyone). Another unique aspect of this story was the incorporation of elements of Canadian history that I haven’t seen before in fiction—the FLQ bombings. The story alternated between first person and third person, which was a bit jarring and took a bit of getting used to, but I liked October (the main character) and was rooting for her to solve the mystery. Also, I think this is the first middle grade novel I’ve read that includes curling!

From a writer’s perspective, I’d read this again just to get a sense for how to create a distinctive voice. This story has many unique elements that make it stand out from others that I’ve read.

“Her minions stared at October, waiting for her to spontaneously combust from the insult.”

“I started crying, and this time I didn’t care that I was breaking my stupid no-tears pact. I’d never been so grateful to have a concerned, nosy parent before in my life.”

 Other Info:
Evan Munday is an illustrator and cartoonist as well as a writer. He lives in Toronto and works as a publicist at Coach House Books.

The Dead Kid Detective Agency book trailer is a Letterman style top five list of reasons why to read the book.
On his blog, Evan Munday has a sneak peak of a couple of the illustrations in the second book, called The Dead Kid Detective Agency: Dial M for Morna.

The Dead Kid Detective Agency is nominated for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch category for 2013. Other nominated books that I’ve featured include: Dragon Seer's Gift by Janet McNaughton, Cat Found by Ingrid Lee, A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis and Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch.

Other books by this author include:

The Dead Kid Detective Agency: Dial ‘M’ for Morna, coming soon

 For more, visit The Dead Kid Detective Agency page at ECW Press.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of the middle grade novel Keeper of the Lost Cities and the new YA novel, Let the Sky Fall. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!




  1. Sounds like an interesting read, especially with the Canadian connections. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. This sure sounds intriguing and different! I would probably have to get used to the way it is written, also. Thanks for the review.

  3. This sounds like a really fun book! I'll have to check it out. By the way, I always love how you include favorite quotes from the books you review.

  4. I like that the MC is thirteen -- it connects with those older MG readers and encourages some who've moved on to YA to step back for a minute.

  5. I'll have to see if I can find this one, if only because I lobbied hard to name my daughter November! (and thought better of it later!)

  6. I'll have to see if I can find this one, if only because I lobbied hard to name my daughter November! (and thought better of it later!)

  7. I like that idea of ghost detectives too!

  8. I have never heard of this book- but the idea of ghost detectives sounds interesting. I am also curious about the distinctive voice that the author created. Thanks for sharing!


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