Review: Chicagoland Detective Agency #1

Chicagoland Detective
Agency #1:
The Drained Brains Caper

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We first meet 13-year-old Megan when she walks into Raf’s family’s pet supply store looking for a tarantula. Instantly, readers are pretty sure she’s the most delightful kind of trouble — she dresses in Gothic Lolita-lite clothes, reads manga, writes haiku, and got kicked out of her last school for starting a fire.

She would have trouble fitting in just about anywhere, but there’s something odd about her summer school, Stepford Preparatory Academy and Megan’s determined to get to the bottom of it.

In the first volume of this series from Graphic Universe, written by the legendary Trina Robbins with art by Tyler Page, we meet a fun, feisty heroine, a nerdy and capable young man and even a detective-movie-obsessed talking dog. What’s not to like?

Robbins handles Megan with grace — she’s not a completely likable character as she’s a little stubborn and full of herself — but she’s presented as being intelligent and resourceful. I also love that Megan’s vegetarianism is presented as a positive thing and not just another throwaway act of teenage rebellion. The story has a few twists and turns, but at least adult readers are going to know what’s going on pretty quickly (the middle grade audience this is aimed at may not quite catch the “Stepford” reference, though).

Page’s art has an indie-comics-meets-manga vibe that’s lovely and appropriate for this book, and I love that he made Megan actually look Asian. His page and panel layouts are dynamic and keep the book moving quickly. If I have one complaint it’s that it was hard for me to tell how old Raf was initially — we are eventually told he was 13, but I was under the impression he may have been a bit older since he was working in his parents’ store.

These characters are great fun and their adventures through movie (detective and monster, among other things, I’m sure) clichés will no doubt be wonderful. I greatly look forward to the next books in this series.

Advanced reading copy provided by Graphic Universe/Lerner Publishing Group through NetGalley.

2 thoughts on “Review: Chicagoland Detective Agency #1”

  1. The Amazon page says ages 9-12 and there’s nothing that scary (there’s some non-preachy stuff about animal testing, though) but the 7-year-old may be a little young, just in that there are a lot of words. The 9-year-old, though, I’d say yes, overall.

    But you know your kids better than I do, of course.

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