Friday, December 9, 2011

It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett

This has been a great fall and winter for new books. Especially new books in my favorite series. There was Goliath, last in the Leviathan trilogy, (see my review here), the latest Percy Jackson book, (I'm working on that one now!) and two 39 Clues books. But, if that weren't enough, we were also lucky enough to get the latest installment in one of my favorite new series, the Brixton Brothers mysteries. This one is called It Happened on a Train and it's by the highly-talented Mac Barnett. This book is so...

"Wait a minute," you say, "who are the Brixton Brothers?" Well, let me give you a little background. Steve Brixton is a 12-year-old boy living in California. He's obsessed with the Bailey Brothers books, a series of mysteries written in the 1950's. In the first book, Steve gets caught up in a mystery involving a book on early American quilts and national security agents (otherwise known as librarians). He solves that mystery and decides to set up his own detective agency called the Brixton Brothers. (Steve doesn't have a brother--he just thinks it sounds cooler) The second book involves another mystery involving the author of those Bailey Brothers books. (if you want to know more, see my review of the first book here and the second here)

Got that? OK, in this book, Steve takes all his beloved Bailey Brothers books out to the curb in a garbage can and decides he doesn't want to be a detective anymore (if you've read the second book, you'll know why!) His best friend Dana tries to talk him out of it but then a strange surfer dude pulls up, presents Steve with a really odd problem and asks Steve to solve it. Steve refuses, however, because he's a "retired detective." After that, Steve and Dana get on a train to go to a student United Nations but find some very mysterious things going on. Why is there an extra car on the train and why does no one want to acknowledge it's there? Who is the scar-faced man looking so intensely at Steve? Once Steve and Dana settle in to their ride, more mysterious things start to happen--Steve meets a girl who disappears (does it have something to do with that extra car?), finds out about a plot to steal fabulously expensive antique automobiles, and gets locked inside a sauna! Someone is desperate to keep the truth hidden. Will this be enough to bring Steve out of retirement? And, if so, can he survive it?

As you can see, there's enough mystery and suspense to get any guy hooked. But that's not all; you get a healthy helping of comedy thrown in too. And sometimes you get both at the same time! Just take the scene on the cover--there's Steve on top of the train, trying to track down the bad guy in just his bath robe and shower cap! This book will make you laugh, scratch your head at the mystery, and wonder how Steve will get out of his next tight squeeze. And the retro style of Adam Rex's illustrations fit the book perfectly. This is a great book for guys who like reading and even guys who don't. Some of the chapters are only two or three pages long and that helps the story move along as quickly as a train. So go check it out, guys! You will say, along with Steve and the Bailey Brothers, "This book is ACE!!"

PS--if you want to read an interview with Mac Barnett, click here.

PPS--Note to Sammer: I know you've checked out the Brixton Brothers books. Let me know what you think!

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Wasn't sure about these but will take a look. Maybe the covers...